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Mayor rejects criticism about handling of ex-police chief

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The ousting of Salt Lake City’s police chief amid growing questions about the handling of female officers’ sexual harassment claims came abruptly. But activists and the police union were left wondering Friday why it didn’t happen sooner.

The union representing Salt Lake City police officers came out against former police Chief Chris Burbank’s handing of the claims against a deputy chief Friday, saying he bungled it and did the right thing by stepping down.

But the president of the police association said both Burbank and Mayor Ralph Becker failed to protect city employees, calling their actions “too little, too late.”

The mayor said Friday that he worked consistently behind the scenes and gave Burbank a chance to make changes, but the situation intensified when the allegations became public about three weeks ago.

Becker denied criticism that the ousting was a political move ahead of an election. “I would have taken this action in the way I took it, campaign year or not a campaign year. It doesn’t matter,” he said.

In a surprise move, Burbank resigned Thursday after clashing with the mayor over Burbank’s handling of a sexual harassment claim that was lodged 1

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