Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced Thursday that Police Chief Chris Burbank resigned from the department in the afternoon.
Mayor Becker addressed reporters on the steps of City Hall and presented them with a letter dated June of last year. In it, Becker said he outlined specific instructions on how Chief Burbank was to handle sexual harassment claims of three female officers against then-deputy chief Rick Findley. Becker said that Burbank chose not to follow those instructions or fully implement the city’s suggested department.
“We have been monitoring the measures in this corrective letter to Chief Burbank over the past year to determine if he was implementing them within the Salt Lake City Police Department and while some implementation has taken place, on balance, the Chief has fallen below my expectations,” said Mayor Becker.
Becker then told reporters that he and Burbank failed to come to an agreement on how to move forward and Burbank resigned. The Mayor reiterated his commitment to a city government that is free of sexual harassment.
“I want every woman in Salt Lake City government to know that we value your service and that sexual harassment will not be tolerated,” said Becker.
Less than an hour after Mayor Becker addressed reporters, Burbank held his own press conference.
“At 3 o’clock today I was asked to come into the Mayor’s office and was given an ultimatum that I deliver a signed apology to a press conference that they had already called, I could resign, or I would be terminated,” said Chief Burbank.
Burbank told reporters that he stands by the decisions he made in dealing with the sexual harassment claims against then Deputy Chief Findley.
“Absolutely there was some disagreement with how it was handled, but ultimately that responsibility lies with me. And I have always taken that responsibility with great pride and great care and have absolutely never allowed sexual harassment to occur in the police department and when I found out about it, it was dealt with appropriately,” said Burbank.
Mayor Becker announced that Deputy Chief Mike Brown will take over as interim police chief for the next few months until a replacement is chosen.