Assistant police chief, town part ways - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Assistant police chief, town part ways

Harris to get $107,000 severance

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Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 11:00 pm

Marana Assistant Police Chief Barbara Harris will retire from the department on June 30, after spending the last three months on paid administrative leave.

On June 10, the town council approved a separation agreement with the assistant chief.

Under the agreement, Harris will receive a lump sum severance pay of $107,000, and a letter of reference from the town. Her personnel file will state that she is eligible for rehire.

Harris had been on paid administrative since March 11. She was taken off paid leave on June 2, but won’t return to active duty before her departure. In the meantime, she will collect pay based on her accumulated vacation time and sick leave.

On March 4, members of the Marana Police Officers Association, the union representing the town’s law enforcement officers, gave a vote of “no confidence” in Harris’ leadership, and asked for her removal.

“It came down to it wasn’t quite a fit,” Councilman Jon Post said June 10, describing the split between Harris and the town as “very amicable.”

Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler said Harris’ retirement stemmed from negative assessments of her leadership in two recent surveys of police department employees.

In both surveys — one conducted by the town, the other by the state’s police union — employees faulted Harris for “not consistently follow(ing) the chain of command.” Employees also pointed to Harris as a key factor for the department’s “low morale,” according to both surveys.

The same surveys faulted outgoing Chief Richard Vidaurri’s leadership as well. Vidaurri also retired, and has since been replaced with an interim chief, Terry Tometich, who previously worked with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Assistant Chief Harris had served as second-in-command for the Marana Police Department since 2006. Before that, she served as a commander and interim police chief at Pima Community College.

Harris next plans to take a position as a course director at Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command, according a statement from town officials.

The town has yet to determine if and when it will fill the assistant chief’s post.

Harris could not be reached for comment.

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