Police Standards Board Shows Officers Break the Law, too

Police Standards Board Shows Officers Break the Law, too

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Statistics released by Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training officials show that in the past dozen years, 212 law enforcement officers have been disciplined for sexual offenses including rape and having sex with a consensual adult in a police vehicle.

Sexual offenses are one of the most common violations committed by police, with punishment ranging from decertification to a reprimand, according to the report released Thursday. Criminal charges are also regularly filed in such cases.

"Sexual offenses are pretty concerning for us," said POST director Sid Groll. "It becomes a public trust issue."

Box Elder County sheriff's Deputy Brett Ricketts had his police certification permanently revoked Thursday for having sex with a woman other than his wife in his police car and in a sheriff's building.

Another Box Elder Sheriff's deputy, James Salvesen, was suspended for three years for having sex with a confidential informant who had made drug buys.

POST Council Chairman Frank Budd said the statistics refute a common misperception of police invulnerability.

"Everyone has the notion that when you are a cop, you have a free ride," he said. "Police do take action on other police officers."

POST reported 215 cases of filing false statements or false reports, most of which involved lying on the police application, Groll said.

"If they are not wholly truthful on the application, they may be denied," he said.

The POST council has dealt with 131 theft cases, 80 assault cases and 66 cases involving DUI.

Complaints alleging bribery or excessive use of force are rare, though police dramas and Hollywood movies show them regularly. The only bribery complaint came in 2000, and in the past 12 years the council has heard only eight excessive force complaints. Complaints can originate from individuals or the police agency employing the officer.

In 2003, the council looked at 15 sexual offense cases and 11 DUI cases, including that of Corrections Official Dillon Thomas, who was suspended for one year Thursday for driving drunk.

Groll said these two areas have received more attention since the mid-1990s to reflect the views of the community.

POST investigators look into each complaint and make a disciplinary recommendation to the council, comprised of police chiefs, sheriffs, state officials and educators. The council takes between 60 and 90 cases a year. About 10 percent of the officers are stripped of their certifications and 10 percent are suspended.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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