Sheriff posts video of controversial traffic stop
December 16, 2011
The Summit County Sheriff’s office has released a videotape of the traffic stop made Sunday, Dec. 4 that has been the center of a heated controversy.
It is posted online at http://www.summitcountysheriff.org/ and Sheriff Dave Edmunds said he hopes members of the public will view video and decide for themselves whether the officer handled the situation properly. According to the sheriff’s website, "The video is unedited and runs the length of the stop."
The timeline that appears in the upper corner of the image counters allegations that a woman whose vehicle registration had expired was made to stand outside in a snowstorm while her vehicle was impounded. It shows that initial contact was made at 10:17 a.m., that the driver stepped out of her car at 10:33 a.m. and that her employer arrived to give her a ride at 10:34 a.m.
Last week, the woman’s employer, Steve Hamilton, told The Park Record he was upset because, the sheriff’s department had used intimidating tactics and bad judgment in forcing his employee, Marti Parker, to get out of her car in a snowstorm. While some of the conversation that took place between the officer and the driver is inaudible, the tape indicates that Hamilton’s claims, that she was outside in the elements for as long at 10 minutes may have been exaggerated.
An article about the incident unleashed a wave of negative comments about the Sheriff’s Department’s alleged heavy-handed approach to routine traffic stops prompting Summit County Sheriff’s Department Captain David Booth to refute Hamilton and Parker’s version of the events.
According to Booth, the officer who made the stop, Deputy Andy Crnich, "is a kind-hearted soul who never would have let the lady walk." In fact, on the video, Crnich asks a second officer who also stopped at the scene whether Parker was being given a ride.
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Also, in response to The Park Record’s editorial suggesting that the department should establish a review panel, there is a Citizen’s Advisory Board in place that can be called on to review specific complaints.
One person who sits on that board is former Park City Mayor Brad Olch who told The Park Record they meet three to four times a year to talk about a variety of issues including the budget, training and individual incidents.
"I think the sheriff is very sensitive to doing the right thing," said Olch adding, "To be honest, I think it (controversy) comes with the territory.
Local attorney Christina Miller, is also a member of the panel and said she believes the sheriff is receptive to hearing citizen complaints but the advisory board could be better publicized. "I do hear about these kinds of issues through my practice and he has made some modifications based on that feedback from the community. I think the panel would be better utilized if the community knew it existed."