Penzone stands with Phoenix police chief on decision to fire officers

Oct 23, 2019, 4:25 AM | Updated: 1:40 pm
(KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)...
(KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)
(KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone understands the precarious position Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams has been facing in recent months.

As leaders of two of the state’s most visible law enforcement agencies, the decisions Penzone and Williams make impact their reputation in the both the short and long term.

Penzone applauded Williams’ most recent high-profile move to fire three Phoenix officers for disciplinary reasons over separate incidents despite pushback from some, including a Phoenix city councilman.

“When you’re the head of an office, you have to define what the reputation of the office will be and we’re the gatekeepers,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos in the Afternoon on Tuesday. “You have to ensure public trust in our conviction to hold the line unwavering … I stand in line with Chief Williams on that decision.”

Williams’ department recently faced scrutiny over the conduct of some officers, including that of an officer involved in a viral shoplifting incident and an officer involved in a social media investigation.

Sgt. Daniel Beau Jones, who was being criminally investigated and has faced multiple lawsuits over his conduct on the job, was among those fired Tuesday.

Officer Christopher Meyer, who was also fired, was named in a notice of claim for $10 million in June over his conduct during an arrest.

Cellphone videos of the May 29 incident showed Meyer roughly handling Dravon Ames and at one point kicking his leg after he was handcuffed.

The videos also showed Meyer grabbing Iesha Harper, who was pregnant, while she was holding a baby.

Penzone said Williams’ decisive action will help restore the department’s reputation and weed out those who aren’t fit for the job.

“Let’s be honest, not everyone is cut out to do this type of work,” Penzone said. “It doesn’t make you a bad person or lesser but if under duress, you’re incapable of holding the line and acting appropriately and standing true to the office, then these separations occur.”

Not everyone was on board with Williams’ decision.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio pushed back on the disciplinary action, saying the officers were fired “for political reasons.”

Williams said Tuesday the officers’ behavior was “unacceptable” and said their conduct eroded trust in the department.

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Penzone stands with Phoenix police chief on decision to fire officers