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Misbehaving Utah officers given leniency, audit finds

February 3, 2019

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Utah police officers caught committing misdeeds on the job such as driving under the influence or using drugs receive more lenient punishments than law enforcement in six other states, a new state report found.

The State Auditor’s Office reviewed eight years of discipline records and concluded Utah gives less severe punishment than Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Oregon and Washington, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The report found that while other states often revoke an officer’s police credentials for a DUI, Utah has never done that in the eight-year span reviewed, The Standard-Examiner reported.

Auditors discovered a similar discrepancy with punishment for drug use. All the officers in the other states had their police license revoked while that only occurred 18 percent of the time in Utah.

Utah officers involved in domestic violence cases only received a suspension of one to three years. In the other states, nearly nine in 10 officers had their license revoked, the report found.

“The result of giving more lenient disciple than other states is that unfit or untrustworthy officers could remain on duty,” the report said.

Scott Stephenson, the director of the state’s Peace Officer Standard and Training, defended sanctions that are designed to balance discipline and fairness. Stephenson noted that Utah’s disciplinary guidelines may be more lenient in some areas but are more severe in others.

He said his organization agreed with a recommendation that the state Legislature create penalties and discipline officers that do not comply with reporting requirements.

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Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net

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