More than two dozen Utah police officers were disciplined on Wednesday, September 21 at a quarterly meeting of the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST). POST is a division of the Department of Public Safety whose role is to impose sanctions on officers who violate Utah’s Peace Officers Standards and Training Act. The violations covered at Wednesday’s meeting ranged from minor infractions to serious criminal offenses like DUI – and in several cases, officers were stripped of their badges.
Assault, DUI, Domestic Violence Lead to Disciplinary Actions for Utah Cops and Deputies
In Utah, standards for police officers are consolidated under the Peace Officers Standards and Training Act, which is found under Title 53, Chapter 6 of the Utah Code pertaining to public safety.
Utah Code § 53-6-211(1) gives the POST council the right to “suspend or revoke the certification of a peace officer” if he or she commits certain acts, or engages in certain practices. For example, under Utah Code § 53-6-211(1)(c), an officer can be suspended from the force, regardless of which town or city’s police department they work for, if they are addicted to drugs or alcohol. To give another example, Utah Code § 53-6-211(1)(f) prohibits any sort of “sexual conduct while on duty.”
On Wednesday, the POST council invoked its authority to take disciplinary measures against 28 officers – just a small portion of the officers waiting to be disciplined in a backlog that stretches back to 2013.
“I accept full responsibility for what I did,” said Justin J. Butler, an ex-cop who formerly served on the Payson Police Department in Utah County. Butler was suspended from the force for one year after being convicted of DUI (driving under the influence), which can have severe penalties for anyone who is found guilty. In Utah, the maximum sentence for DUI can range anywhere from six months in jail to five years in prison, depending on whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor.
Jason Elwood, who previously served as a Uintah County Sheriff’s Deputy, told the group, “I apologize [for] having to appear before you on this incident and I just want to take the time to say I regret my actions.” Elwood was suspended for four years after engaging in sexual conduct while on duty – one of the violations explicitly banned by the Utah Code.
“I’ve taken the steps in my personal and professional life and rectify the issues,” he said.
According to POST, Elwood was terminated from his position for an unrelated matter.
Elwood and Butler represent only two out of the 28 officers, deputies, and other members of law enforcement who were disciplined. The most severe form of disciplinary action is to revoke an officer’s badge or revoke their certification, which is what occurred in the cases of:
- Galen Bret Allred, a member of the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, who used Sheriff’s Office funds to buy more than 90 gallons of fuel. (Based on average gas prices in Utah, reported to be $2.10 in April 2016, that adds up to about $195.)
- Steven Kline, a former deputy with the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office, whose certification was revoked after POST members alleged that Kline pawned ammunition that was property of the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office. Kline was subsequently terminated from his position as a deputy.
- Austin L. Stubblefield, who previously served as a deputy with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. His certification was revoked due to allegations of assault dating back to 2014.
If you were charged with simple assault in Utah, or were charged with aggravated assault in Utah, you should contact a Salt Lake City assault lawyer immediately. Depending on whether the charges involve simple or aggravated assault, and factors like how seriously the victim was injured, the penalties can range anywhere from six months in jail to 15 years in prison.
Most of the officers who appeared at the meeting avoided having their badges or certifications revoked, and were instead temporarily suspended from their positions. For example, Adam Burton, who previously served as an Iron County Sheriff’s Deputy, was suspended for three and a half years in connection with allegations of domestic violence. A former officer who served on the West Valley City Police Department, Darin S. Hoover, was suspended for three months in connection with disorderly conduct.
Charged with a Crime in Utah? Contact a Salt Lake City Defense Lawyer for Help
Assault, intoxicated driving, acts of domestic violence, and other topics that arose at the POST meeting all share one trait in common: they can all lead to criminal prosecution and, potentially, severe penalties – no matter what sort of job you have. If you or a family member has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Utah, it is in your best interests to contact a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation with a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer who has worked on thousands of cases, call the law offices of Overson Law as soon as possible at (801) 758-2287. We handle criminal cases in Utah County, Uintah County, Summit County, Salt Lake County, Wasatch County, Rich County, Davis County, and throughout the state.