LOGAN — A former University of Utah police officer who was involved in the Lauren McCluskey case — and later disciplined for not following proper procedures in a different domestic violence case — started a new job with the Logan Police Department this week, the department confirmed Tuesday.
Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen defended the department’s hiring of officer Miguel Deras, saying the officer’s pre-hire background check “suggested that there were no egregious issues” during Deras’ time with the University of Utah.
“It’s just a little sad that it has to be what I feel like is kind of a black eye for him,” Jensen said.
Deras resigned from the University of Utah’s police department on Sept. 15 after spending four years with the department, according to a University of Utah spokesman. The U. didn’t make any additional comment about Deras’ departure.
The former University of Utah officer was disciplined in March for not conducting a proper background check on a subject, failing to call for backup, and interviewing a woman in the presence of her boyfriend while responding to a domestic violence incident in February.
“You are not meeting the expectations of your position,” University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin wrote in a letter to Deras on March 29.
Deras previously worked as an animal control officer for Logan police, Jensen said, describing himself as “very familiar” with Deras’ work.
“I’m also very familiar with the concerns of the community as it relates to the McCluskey case,” Jensen added.
Deras is one of a number of defendants named in a $56 million lawsuit filed against the University of Utah by McCluskey’s parents, alleging the university has not taken responsibility for their daughter’s on-campus murder last year at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland.
A three-member independent review panel found that numerous mistakes were made by the University of Utah and campus police handling McCluskey’s case in the weeks leading up to her killing. However, the panel concluded that it was impossible to say whether McCluskey’s Oct. 22 death could have been prevented.
Other defendants in the lawsuit include detective Kayla Dallof, who was fired months after McCluskey’s murder for showing a “complete dereliction of duty” in a separate domestic violence case. Dallof has since been hired as a Weber County sheriff’s deputy.
“He was part of the culture that needs to change at (the University of Utah police department) for women to be safer on campus,” Jill McCluskey wrote. “He didn’t help (Lauren) and was derelict in his duty.”
Deras spent much of his childhood in Logan and is a graduate of Logan High School, according to Jensen. Deras’ brother also works for the Logan Police Department.
“He’s got a history in Logan and wanted to come home,” Jensen said. “So we obviously have given him that opportunity.”
The chief noted that Deras, along with another new hire, was undergoing “advanced” domestic violence training his first two days on the job, “giving him every opportunity to become successful and be a working part of our department.”
A message to the University of Utah inquiring about Deras’ departure was not immediately returned.