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7 West Valley police officers placed on leave following investigation

By Stephanie Grimes | Posted - Apr 17th, 2013 @ 9:10pm

WEST VALLEY CITY — Two supervisors and five detectives with the West Valley City Police Department have been placed on leave during the ongoing investigation into the embattled police department's narcotics unit.

Lt. John Coyle, Sgt. Michael Johnson and detectives Ricardo Franco, Sean McCarthy, Rafael Frausto, Chris Smith and Barbara Lund were all placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday as part of an independent investigation into the department's Neighborhood Narcotics Unit, which was disbanded in December.

Deputy chief Mike Powell said Wednesday evening those placed on leave have been "completely cooperative" with the investigation and that the move is standard departmental procedure.

West Valley City concluded on Friday an internal audit that found narcotics officers had stolen money and other items from vehicles they had seized and may have taken drugs and money during arrests.

The city identified six "areas of potential problems" within the department, including improper evidence handling, improper use of confidential informants and improper use of GPS trackers.

Deputy chief Mike Powell said Wednesday evening those placed on leave have been "completely cooperative" with the investigation.

During the course of the investigation, Salt Lake County District Attorney filed motions to dismiss 96 criminal cases, meaning those cases will not be prosecuted.

Gill has said in the past that issues involving West Valley police compromised the integrity of the evidence and his ability to get convictions, leading to the dismissal of the cases.

The department's narcotics unit has been the subject of multiple investigations since Nov. 2, when undercover drug officers shot and killed 21-year-old Danielle Willard at her West Valley apartment complex.

The FBI, West Valley Police and the district attorney's office continue to investigate the department. It is currently unknown whether any officers in the narcotics unit will face criminal charges.

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