SALT LAKE CITY -- As Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker vies for another term in office, he’s opening up about a controversy that’s plagued his reelection campaign: former police Chief Chris Burbank.
“He and I had such a basic disagreement around that matter and around other things it was time for us to part ways,” Becker said.
Burbank resigned in June after a dispute with the mayor over how he handled a sexual harassment case against the police department.
Thursday, both Becker and Burbank gave their two cents about what happened.
“I am so over Ralph Becker,” Burbank said.
The dispute goes all the way back to 2013, when Burbank placed former deputy chief Rick Findlay on paid administrative leave amidst accusations that he had sexually harassed three female officers.
According to Becker, he had instructed Burbank to demote Findlay. When he didn’t, Becker said he decided to allow Burbank the opportunity to handle the situation. However, a year later, when the case became public, Becker felt more needed to be done.
“His response to that didn’t reflect to me that he’d learned anything from the year before,” Becker said. “He didn’t take a very proactive approach to that.”
But the former police chief is adamant that his resignation was the result of Becker’s political ambitions, not for any wrongdoing.
“I don’t recall ever having a disagreement with him," Burbank said. "In fact, we never discussed this. I think he sees it as an avenue to where he can get reelected, and, quite frankly, his only avenue to get reelected. And I’m just not interested in participating in that.”
Burbank’s resignation in June came after a brief meeting with the mayor, where he was offered an ultimatum: publicly apologize for the case or resign. Becker acknowledged the issue could have been handled better.
“What I do regret is that while I had been going through this experience with Chief Burbank for a long time, and other experiences as well where we had had disagreement, the public wasn't privy to that,” Becker said. “So, when his resignation was announced, it was a complete shock to the public.”
Weeks after his departure, Burbank said he is ready to move on from it all. Currently, he is working for the national non-profit, Center for Policing Equity.
“I’m tired of this,” Burbank said. “It’s time to let it go. There are bigger and better things to take place.”