The Record Granato Leaves Behind

The Record Granato Leaves Behind
YAKIMA -- As KIMA was the first to report, Yakima police chief, Sam Granato is leaving Yakima after seven years. His tenure has been rocky to say the least. KIMA wanted to know whether Granato is leaving us with a community that's safer now than when he arrived back in 2003.

It has never been the kind of job you take because you want to feel the love. Being the chief of police in any city is like volunteering to be thrown to the wolves. And for the last seven years, Sam Granato has experienced that, Yakima style, adding to it a personality that seemed to offer little compromise.

Sam Granato's tough, even stubborn, approach to dealing with his officers, and city officials created a lot of enemies early on in his seven years. He was constantly dealing with complaints and law suits filed by employees and the police union.

With respect to the media's coverage of Granato, his approach has been pretty simple: when controversy struck, the Chief was nowhere to be found. And then if he didn't like the coverage, he would order an information blackout to that media outlet. A dangerous gamble when public safety was at stake. It happened twice to KIMA. Once in 2007 and again earlier this year when KIMA asked the Chief about his crime analyst during an interview on the success of his gang unit.

The chief was upset that we didn't stick to his agenda. But you don't hire a police chief to be a friend to the media. You hire a Chief to fight crime. Problem is, Granato's record on that isn't exactly stellar.

During his seven years, Granato did create an aggressive gang unit, We saw auto theft rates ebb and flow and simple thefts did drop. But when you look at what's happened to violent crime in Yakima, there has been a clear trend under Granato.

Between Granato's arrival and December 2010, the murder rate in Yakima has climbed 225%. Rapes between 2004 and 2009 have jumped 27%. Robberies climbed 25% and assault spiked a whopping 39%.

Still, even those who fell out of Granato's grace have something nice to say. Councilman, Rick Ensey in one of them. "He's done a great managing his police force. He's brought down overtime considerably. So, he's made the police more efficient." At what, is still up for debate.

New blood can be a good thing and most city officials are itching for change at YPD. But they are also protecting themselves. The chief's severance package makes sure the next time they see the chief, it's not in court.

"In this case we also have a number of issues centered around litigation," said Assistant City Manager, Dave Zabell. "And the city needs assurances as well as the chief needing assurances. This kind of lays out that relationship."

In exchange for the Chief agreeing not to sue, the city will send him off with eight months' pay, $100,000. Half of that will come from the city's risk management fund, the other from the city's insurance carrier.