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EPHRAIM — The attorney representing three Ephraim police officers who resigned after calling out their longtime chief for failing to properly complete hundreds of incident report said Wednesday that the FBI is now involved.
"I am pleased to learn that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into this matter," said Bret Rawson, legal counsel for former officers Larry Golding, Jared Hansen and Darren S. Pead.
FBI spokeswoman Sandra Barker on Wednesday would only say "we are aware of the matter and are reviewing it."
Ephraim City Manager Brant Hanson said Wednesday he had not been informed of any FBI involvement. But he said the city was not opposed to federal officers reviewing an investigation into their police chief.
Meanwhile, a former Ephraim officer who worked under Chief Ron Rassmussen says he supports his former colleagues. And while Kevin Jackman believes Rasmussen is a "great man" who cares about his community, he said it might be time for him to find another way to serve Ephraim rather than as police chief.
"He is definitely a people person and is a staple of the community down there. It is my opinion that if he really loves his community and wants them to be safe and have the best services possible, that he needs to step down and let someone else be the chief," he said.
The controversy over the Ephraim Police Department began when Golding, Hansen and Pead raised concerns that their chief routinely failed to file reports in a timely manner or filed reports that were incomplete.
An independent investigation conducted by the Utah County Sherriff’s Office found that since February 2007, Rasmussen was responsible for 237 of the department's 272 incomplete reports. And while it didn't find evidence that his conduct was criminal, the investigation called the lack of report writing "serious" and noted that it left the door open for possible lawsuits against the city.
Rasmussen was placed on five days' administrative leave by the city and then allowed to return to the department as chief. The decision to bring Rasmussen back prompted the three officers, whom Rawson described as whistleblowers, to resign.
The officers say if they had let 200 reports slide, they would have been fired.
The Deseret News randomly asked several police agencies in Salt Lake and Utah counties about their report writing policies. All of them said they had seen officers heavily disciplined in the past for getting less than five reports behind. Most were required to complete reports before they went home.
According to the Salt Lake City Police Department's official policy, "initial field officer reports must be completed before the officer goes off duty unless otherwise approved by the shift supervisor. All officers assigned to an incident will complete a report indicating any action taken and any observations made before they go off duty."
Rawson said having police reports completed before an officer goes home is essentially a uniform policy nationwide, with the exception being a complex investigation in a major felony case that takes a little extra time to sort through.
"For most patrol functions, you cannot leave your shift until your report is complete," he said. "It's unheard of that you would be more than two or three reports behind without facing serious disciplinary issues. The idea you would be hundreds of reports behind is simply unheard of."
Jackman worked as an officer for the Ephraim police in 2010-11 before leaving to pursue other options. But he said if he was still there today, he likely would have joined veteran officers Golding and Hansen, and the man who replaced him, Pead, in resigning.
"I served for a year with the department and can vouch 100 percent for the trustworthiness and honor that Larry, Jared, and Darren showed whenever I was on shift with them or shared calls with them," he said. "I often took complaints from citizens about how nothing had been done about their cases that Ron took, and I would try to look up their case and there was nothing there."
The three officers that resigned announced publicly before leaving that they had "lost all confidence in our chief" while the report from the Utah County Sheriff's Office found that the officers, "do not trust Chief Rasmussen. They do not believe he knows 'how to be a cop.'"
"I stand by (Hansen, Golding, Pead) and believe that those three officers should still be serving the community right now. Please know that I have been gone for six years, and I don't know the full scope of what has occurred since I left," he said, but then added, "I would trust my life and community with (Hansen, Golding, Pead) on a call, and with Ron I wouldn't. But I do believe he is a great person."
On Monday, Rasmussen told the Deseret News that his lack of report writing was because he was busy with other matters.
"Just got busy with running the department and the general stuff of the police chief. And I put more time into dealing with the community and community policing than putting time where it should have been. Now I'm trying to rectify that and move forward," he said.
City officials said they have essentially placed Rasmussen on six months probation and want to see several changes implemented, including attending to more administration duties and not duties that patrol officers are supposed to do.