Ex-deputy arrested for DUI
After working in law enforcement in the area for nearly three decades, former Summit County sheriff’s Capt. Joe Offret chose retirement after he allegedly rolled his vehicle on Brown’s Canyon Road last week while driving intoxicated.
Authorities say Offret’s 11-year-old daughter was in the vehicle when it turned over Feb. 1 about a half-mile from S.R. 248 near the Summit County line.
To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Summit County Attorney David Brickey said Salt Lake County prosecutors would review the case against Offret. The former candidate for sheriff could face a misdemeanor for driving under the influence of alcohol, Brickey added.
"I think the public has got to have the confidence in the Summit County Attorney’s Office that we don’t play favorites," Brickey said.
Offret was traveling toward Park City around 6 p.m. when the rollover crash occurred, Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Randall Richey said.
"[Offret] appeared to have alcohol in his system," Richey said, adding that no one was injured in the crash.
After he was arrested at the scene, troopers released Offret on his own recognizance, Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said, adding that DUI suspects in Summit County are typically booked into jail.
"You don’t have to be booked," Edmunds said about Offret not spending time in jail. "There is that discretion and you can be afforded that."
Summit County deputies have stayed away from the investigation, he added.
"There’s no way I can fairly review it," Brickey said. "Whatever decision I made would have been second guessed."
David Yocom, district attorney for Salt Lake County, has agreed to review the trooper’s report. Brickey says videotape recorded at the scene of the crash shows a semi-trailer "jack-knifed" on the snowy road.
Another vehicle can be seen on the side of the road, he added.
Though Offret’s blood alcohol content was below Utah’s legal limit of .08 grams, because of the crash and inclement weather, investigator’s claim he was unable to safely operate the vehicle, Brickey said.
"We haven’t got the case yet," Yocom said Thursday.
According to Brickey, Offret retained Bruce Savage, an attorney in Park City, to oversee his defense. Offret and Savage did not return telephone calls seeking comment for this story.
During more than 25 years working in law enforcement in Summit County, Offret investigated some of the area’s highest profile cases. Though he no longer works at the Sheriff’s Office, his retirement doesn’t officially take effect until the end of February.
"[Offret] has been an integral part of Summit County for 27 years personally, I will miss Joe," Brickey said about the Park City native. "He has a wonderful sense of humor."
Edmunds stressed that Offret chose on his own to retire after the incident.
"The man had a great career and let’s not mar that because he’s willing to stand up and say mistakes were made. That’s a true measure of an honorable person," the sheriff said, adding, "he’s retired, he’s gone and he’s going to be sorely, sorely missed."
Edmunds said the case should serve as a reminder to drivers who get behind the wheel after a few drinks, adding, "if you cannot safely operate a vehicle, you could be at and .02 or .03 and you could legally be too impaired."
In the 2002 general election, Edmunds, a Republican, squeaked by Democrat Offret in the race for sheriff.
Summit County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dave Booth praised the men for putting politics aside following the campaign. Offret was made chief of Edmunds’ patrol bureau.
"When I came three years ago, Joe was really a mentor of mine," Booth said. "He was a very well rounded administrator."
Someone will likely be promoted from the ranks of the Sheriff’s Office to replace Offret, Edmunds said.
"A man that spends three decades doing a very good job should be remembered for that and not for a momentary lapse of judgment," the sheriff said. "When you make certain mistakes, there has to be payment for those mistakes and no one knows that better than Joe."
Because formal charges hadn’t been filed, Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) spokesman Jeff Nigbur was unsure this week whether a DUI conviction could impact Offret’s retirement. POST investigates officers who get in trouble to determine whether their law enforcement certifications should be suspended or evoked.
"That’s not a POST issue yet," Nigbur said.
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The Solomon Children’s Justice Center of Summit County has moved into its new home, a space officials hope will provide privacy and support to families experiencing trauma.