SLC mayoral candidate who wants to fire police cheif gains support of police officers

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    By RUSS HILL

    Salt Lake City Police officers are endorsing the mayoral candidate who has promised to fire their boss.

    At a news conference Thursday morning, the Salt Lake City Police Officer’s Association announced its support of Ross “Rocky” Anderson for mayor.

    “His experience as a civil rights leader is attractive to us,” said David Greer, president of the association.

    Anderson has not made it a secret that he plans to fire Police Chief Ruben Ortega if he becomes mayor. In fact, he is using it as one of his core campaign promises.

    The officers’ endorsement proves there are problems at the police department, Anderson said.

    “They are obviously very unhappy with Ortega’s leadership,” Anderson said.

    Ortega met with reporters for a short time after the police union’s endorsement announcement. The chief said he is now considering delaying retirement. He said he will stay on as chief if Stuart Reid is elected.

    A few weeks ago Ortega said he will leave his job in January, regardless of who is elected mayor.

    Reid and Anderson are the two remaining candidates for mayor after the primaries.

    Reid said he supports Ortega and has served for several years as the Community and Economic Development director for Salt Lake City.

    “He has the leadership needed for the Olympics,” Reid said.

    Reid pointed to an outside audit of Ortega’s department, as proof that the chief has been effective. The audit praised the police department’s programs that have gotten the public more involved in police enforcement.

    Reid’s support of Ortega has motivated the police union to actively oppose Reid in the upcoming election on Nov. 2. Union leaders said officers must have a new chief in order for morale to rebound.

    Low morale is only one of the reasons Anderson gives as his motivation for promising to fire Ortega. He also said Ortega has pushed his weight too far.

    Anderson said a police sweep of Liberty Park a few months ago is evidence of the chief’s misuse of power. Officers arrested several people who were participating in a drum circle at the park. Some of those arrested said police were too rough with the crowd.

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