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EPHRAIM — Ephraim Police Chief Ron Rasmussen was letting paperwork in his office slide, creating potential problems for city prosecutors and other officials.
But Rasmussen's actions did not rise to the level of criminal violations, investigators said Friday. Because of that, Rasmussen, who was placed on paid administrative leave during the second week of June pending the outcome of an internal investigation, has been placed on an additional five days of leave as a penalty. He will resume his duties as police chief on June 28.
Rasmussen, believed to currently be Utah's longest-serving police chief with 27 years as head of Ephraim's department, was placed on leave after undisclosed allegations were raised. The investigation was conducted by the Utah County Sheriff's Office to avoid any conflict of interest.
City Manager Brant Hanson revealed Friday that those allegations centered around Rasmussen's "lack of completing incident reports."
"The investigation identified incomplete incident reports by Police Chief Ron Rasmussen and recommended a course of action to improve processes and correct inefficiencies," he said. "There is an expectation as a law enforcement officer that you come back (to the office) and write a report."
But while the problem was due in part to negligence by the chief, Hanson also emphasized that a woefully understaffed police department was another big contributing factor, and that the city shares some of the blame.
The department currently has five officers, including the chief. Ephraim's population is just under 7,000 residents. When Snow College is in session, the city's population swells to much more than that, Hanson said.
Due to a lack of staffing, Rasmussen often finds himself in the field with the other patrol officers rather than attending to administrative duties, Hanson said. The chief has even been known to fill in for school crossing guards who haven't shown up to work, he said.
"He's a great chief," Hanson commented.
But Rasmussen was being taken away from his role a chief too often, the investigation concluded. That overworked schedule often led to paperwork not being properly completed.
"The investigation recommends that two additional police officers be added to the department to provide necessary support to the police force. The city of Ephraim has approved the budget to add one officer to the force as of July 1, 2017, and plans to fund a second officer position within the next three years," Hanson said in a prepared statement.
Rasmussen has also been ordered to receive additional leadership and management training and to help draft a plan for fixing the report filing problem. Additionally, the city has promised to provide more resources to Rasmussen and his department, Hanson said.
“Ephraim City fully supports Chief Rasmussen and the entire police department,” Mayor Richard Squire said in a prepared statement. “We take public safety very seriously and look forward to the opportunity to improve how our police department functions to make it more effective and efficient for the community we serve.”