I can't resist commenting on your recent profile of Salt Lake Police Chief Ruben Ortega. While citing his support in the political community for being "progressive" and "innovative," you fail to recall his disastrous reign in Phoenix. There, he was notorious for wielding power so abusively that one member of the Phoenix City Council wondered aloud who would protect the community from Ortega himself. Did you forget about the botched investigation of the Phoenix Suns? How about Azscam? How about the millions of taxpayer dollars he cost the city while trampling his own officers?
The Utah Court of Appeals has already ruled once that Ortega abused his authority in a disciplinary matter. Three disciplinary appeals and one breach-of-contract claim are currently pending. Will Salt Lake residents be shelling out millions to pay for Ortega's abuses?Ortega is the classic "reform model" police administrator, running his department with a highly centralized power structure and rigid hierarchy of command. He responds to political pressure by forming a multitude of specialized squads, depleting precious patrol resources. This, coupled with fearsome disciplinary practices that suffocate officers' initiative and creativity, results in a reduction in the quality of police services delivered to the community.
Ortega fails to grasp the true essence of community policing. Instead, he uses public relations and a veneer of popular social programs to gain political and public support. In the meantime, it is not unusual for civilians to wait one to two hours (or longer) for police to respond to calls.
Most telling in your article was Ortega's statement, "As long as the citizens have faith and support in us, that's what really matters." In other words, the legitimate concerns of his officers don't matter. The officers and the public deserve better.
David P. Greer