Can Spanish Fork keep a police chief who was decertified for shoplifting?

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SPANISH FORK — How, or perhaps whether to keep its police chief of 25 years now that his certification has been pulled was the focus of a closed-door City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council decertified two Utah police chiefs on Thursday: Grantsville Police Chief Danny Johnson and Spanish Fork Police Chief Dee Rosenbaum.

The actions appeared to spell the end of jobs as police chief for both. Grantsville is searching for a new chief with Johnson planning to retire next month.

But chatter behind the scenes in Spanish Fork raises a question whether some city elected officials are looking for ways it can keep Rosenbaum, who is already "retired in place," meaning he is drawing retirement from the state but collecting a paycheck from the city, while still working, without accruing additional retirement benefits.

"We're having a closed session tonight to discuss all of our options," Councilman Rod Dart said Tuesday before the meeting, adding that he knew of no predispositions but that the council was meeting "to discuss all of our options."

Councilman Keir Scoubes said he also was not aware of any decisions in place. "I have had no communication with the mayor or other members of the council" since Rosenbaum was decertified on Thursday, he said.

The closed session was the council's only agenda item. The only public indication there is a move to keep Rosenbaum from losing his job with the city is a six-page letter to the council that City Attorney S. Junior Baker wrote the day before Thursday's decertification and that is harshly critical of the way the POST council has handled the case.

Rosenbaum was decertified for four years after a police standards review committee determined he shoplifted clothing at the Provo Towne Center in 2010 and then lied about it to investigators. The chief maintains his actions "did look suspicious" but that he wasn't shoplifting.

Baker, in his letter, accuses POST of conducting an investigation that was procedurally defective, challenges the POST council's conclusion and is critical of the security officer at Dillard's where the chief was accused of shoplifting.

Michael J. Larsen, chairman of the peace officer council and chief of Orem's Public Safety Department, said he doesn't know what the city's intent is, and while he is not aware of any other police chiefs in Utah who are not certified peace officers, he believes the city could have the flexibility to have a chief who is not.

"They can have an administrator who is not a sworn police officer," he said.

Rosenbaum was placed on administrative leave last week after his certification was revoked for four years. Johnson was decertified for 18 months for his conviction of wanton destruction of wildlife in a deer hunting incident.

Both Rosenbaum and Johnson could appeal the revocations.

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Steve Fidel and Lori Prichard


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