Complaints against police set mark |

Complaints against police set mark

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Police Department in 2008 formally investigated more complaints against the force than in any year since the police began releasing the statistics, according to the department’s annual report.

Fifteen complaints against the department were investigated last year, the report said, with the complaints covering a range of claims against the police. Of the complaints, six were sustained, meaning that internal investigators found there was sufficient evidence supporting the claim of a violation of policy.

Complaints that were sustained included:

Two officer misconduct claims

A claim against an officer’s adherence to the department’s code of conduct

A claim that an officer left their vehicle running while it was not occupied

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A claim against the judgment of someone in the Police Department

A claim of someone in the Police Department abusing equipment like a municipal cell phone, a computer or the Internet

One of the misconduct cases resulted in an officer resigning, the report and Police Chief Wade Carpenter said. The police chief said the resignation occurred in the second half of 2008, after he had become the chief.

Carpenter said the actions leading to the resignation were unbecoming of a police officer. He declined to discuss details and did not identify the officer who resigned as a result of the misconduct. He said the officer did not commit a criminal offense.

The Police Department and other City Hall departments typically do not speak publicly about disciplinary actions or resignations that are based on misconduct. State law allows a local government to closely guard personnel issues.

In the incident involving the abuse of the equipment, a member of the Police Department was suspended, without pay, for 40 hours. Carpenter said the person used the equipment outside of department policy. He did not provide details.

Meanwhile, an officer received verbal counseling in the other officer-misconduct case that was sustained, a Police Department member received a letter of reprimand in the claim against the person’s judgment and an officer was counseled after the incident involving a vehicle that was left running while it was unoccupied.

The 15 complaints were the most tallied by the Police Department in a year since the numbers began being released in 2005. The previous high was the 13 reported in 2007. Nine complaints were investigated in 2006 and six were probed in 2005.

Officers in 2008 were exonerated after two rudeness complaints, and an officer was exonerated of an accusation of being angry and aggressive.

Officers use force

The Police Department report indicates officers used force on 12 occasions in 2008, tied for the most since the department began providing the information in 2004.

According to the report, officers used physical force in six instances. Three of the other cases involved officers drawing their guns. In one of those instances, the officer put down a dog.

Carpenter said in another instance an officer used a Taser on a suspect who had run away from officers and then refused to remove his hands from his coat. The suspect was visiting Park City. The incident occurred in February in Old Town.