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U.S. Attorney's Office to drop 8 cases involving WVC narcotics unit

By Jessica Ivins | Posted - Apr 9th, 2013 @ 10:38pm



WEST VALLEY CITY — The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday it will drop eight federal cases handled by the West Valley City Police Department's former narcotics unit — another blow to the embattled agency.

"These motions, which have been granted by the court, were filed in the interests of justice," said U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch. She did not release any further information regarding the cases.

This announcement comes in addition to the 19 cases previously dropped by the District Attorney's Office last month. Those 19 cases all reportedly involved detective Shawn Cowley, who is currently under investigation by several agencies — including the FBI — for alleged corruption.

Cowley has been on administrative leave since November, when he and another officer shot and killed 21-year-old Danielle Willard. An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

At a West Valley City council meeting Tuesday, leaders responded to the pressure and "independent investigation" on the police department. The city's manager said he would be calling for "higher standards" and a change to the review board that handles complaints against police.

"Of course people want to understand and see resolution in cases, especially high-profile cases like this," said West Valley City manager Wayne Pyle.

Pyle said the criticism of his city hasn't always been fair, but said leaders agree more transparency is a step in the right direction.

"I don't think it's ever a bad idea to have more transparency where it's appropriate," he said.

Pyle said though city wants to be more transparent with its community, the nature of some investigations don't always allow for full public disclosure.

"Should we be better?" he said. "Absolutely, we should always be looking for better ways to do that, and we are doing that now."

Proposed changes to the review board include removing the police department from the review process and a public meeting for input on the city's policing. Pyle also suggested educating the public on how to efficiently file a complaint, as well as creating written rules as to how things should be run.

The council will consider the changes in the next two weeks before meeting again to vote on the proposals.

The Neighborhood Narcotics Unit was disbanded in December. It was announced Friday that a dismissal from the department is pending for Cowley, and an additional 100 cases are currently under review.

Contributing: Jennifer Stagg

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