Someone has to start the thread on latest police "scandal"

Comments

Tim Fruth 2 years, 2 months ago

What an interesting story by Alexis in the Roundup. http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/201...

An interesting editorial on the state of the police department. http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/201...

Quoting the editorial: "Still, we believe the town council should focus intensely on this unfortunate series of resignations, demotions and firings. The pattern established should set off a not-so-silent alarm in town hall."

Should the Town Council become actively involved? If so, how and what should they do? Should the officer have been terminated the last time which involved (as Alexis writes) "sending salacious pictures and sexually explicit cell phone messages"? That would have made this latest incident a "non-incident" since the person in question would not have been in uniform.

Just some food for thought.

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frederick franz 2 years, 2 months ago

I feel that the police department is doing it's job. The chief is operating at a disadvantage with an understaffed department.

A robber was arrested this week. The Payson police are doing actual police work, in contrast to Star Valley, who collects funds with it's photo-radar. Photo radar does not stop any crime.

Yes, let's let the chief discipline his wayward officers. I feel that the chief can handle the problems without Town Hall involvement!

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Tom Garrett 2 years, 2 months ago

Tim,

I'm glad you started a string on this subject. There are a lot of things that need to be said about Payson PD, and I, for one, am glad to have a chance to say some of them.

I've only been acquainted with Payson PD, and that only peripherally, for 29 years. My main "acquaintance" is limited to one time when I needed a little help, and one time when I had occasion to talk to an off-duty officer.

One day before I moved up here I found myself over near Safeway with the need to call back down to the valley. I had not yet gotten a cell phone, so I just wandered up to a man in blue who was talking to a young woman, waited till he was done, and asked where I could find a pay phone. I did that because in my mind the police are people on our side, people who are our friends, people who look out for us in a lot of ways we never even hear about.

On that day in 1987 I got more than just directions. The officer--I'm sorry, I just do not remember his name--asked if there was any kind of help that I needed. And the question came with a broad smile. I said no and thanked him for his courtesy.

The second time happened after I moved up here. I was in the old Walmart in the Basha's shopping center waiting in line. Two people, a clerk and a woman shopper, were having a laugh together over something as the clerk ran stuff through the scanner. I turned around, saw the uniform, and said, "Why don't you arrest those two for a public display of happiness?"

He grinned at me and replied, "If I did that half the town would be in jail." We both laughed, the line moved on, and home to Pine I drove. Again I have to apologize because I do not remember the name tag, but I do remember thinking as I drove home that I might perhaps have been wiser to buy in Payson.

When Don Engler was being considered for the Chief's job there was a lot of discussion here on the forum about experience and qualifications. There was a lot of it, but none of it was negative. At the time, I thought that said a lot.

In running this forum all these years, and talking back and forth with I do not know how many people in over 6,000 e-mails, I have never read a single negative word about a Payson police officer; and trust me, if there was something to say I'm sure someone would have said it. People are not bashful about talking up in those e-mails. They know I would keep anything they say confidential on pain of death.

On top of that, I've talked back and forth in e-mails with a few Payson PD officers, though we never met in person. Never read anything in one of those e-mails that created any doubts in my mind.

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Tom Garrett 2 years, 2 months ago

So here's how I look at the current "series" of problems at Payson PD.

Payson PD is a small, rural police department, but sometimes I suspect that when we think of "small" we think of Gunsmoke or the four or six man police departments of yesteryear. Payson PD, as far as I can gather, counting both full time officers, support people, and volunteers, is made up of somewhere between 80 and 90 dedicated men and women.

Now I don't know whether any of you folks have ever worked in a place with that many people in it, but most of the places where I've worked had about two thirds of that number in them, and some of them had as few as five or ten people, and yet I have never, ever worked anywhere where at least couple of people haven't screwed up in some way.

I can understand why two or three troubling events in a small town town like Payson might seem like a "series," but I don't think we need to run around in circles worrying ourselves into early graves because of what might lie beneath that number.

My guess is that you could dig as deep as you wanted and all you would find is an overworked, and now short-handed, police department doing its job and doing it well, a police department that, for example, responded to over 2,500 calls last year--that's one for every six Payson residents.

Okay, a few things happened. Fine. They happened. But were they swept under the rug? No.They were immediately made public, and just as immediately handled in an effective and rational manner commensurate with their importance.

I think that reflects positively on the quality and professionalism of the police force we have, and on its leadership. And you know what? Until something a whole lot more exciting comes along you're going to have a hard time changing my opinion about that.

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Tim Fruth 2 years, 2 months ago

I am not certain what to think except on this specific case. Maybe it is my opinion only but I doubt it. This officer in question probably should have been terminated a year ago. Anybody in the real world who is a person that is to be trusted by the public, probably would be terminated for sending "salacious pictures and sexually explicit cell phone messages" to someone that they are working with.

Tom, I'm with you, but I will say that in my contacts with other officers they were quite embarrassed by the previous incident and most would suggest that the consequences were to light for the incident. If a student sends stuff like that, we are mandated to report it to law enforcement. If stiffer consequences had been administered the first time, this 2nd incident would not have occurred by a person in uniform. As you know, fair or not, some are held to higher standards.

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Kim Chittick 2 years, 2 months ago

I completely agree Tim. "fair or not, some are held to higher standards." I am certain that there are people who would disagree with the preceding statement, however, as Police Officers, these people have almost supreme power over civilians. They have arrest, and citing authority, as well as other rights not granted to ordinary citizens. Their powers and authority have the potential to ruin a persons life. Therefore, it is incumbent upon them to behave in a manner above and beyond reproach. Sending salacious pictures and/or messages is behavior that is not in keeping with the high moral and ethical standards that we as ordinary citizens expect from our Police Officers. I believe that Tom's assertion is correct. Were Payson a larger city with a greater population, it is doubtful that these incidents would even make the news. They would be dealt with on an administrative level. The officer would be disciplined or terminated and that would be that. However, since our town is relatively small, and our police officers are highly visible, and active in the community, in and out of uniform, incidents quickly become public knowledge. I agree that Chief Engler is doing the best that he can with what he has. I wish him well.

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Tom Garrett 2 years, 2 months ago

"If stiffer consequences had been administered the first time, this 2nd incident would not have occurred by a person in uniform."

Could be. That's the chance you take when you temper justice with mercy. You win some and you lose some. The question is--as always--whether the gains compensate for the losses. The person making the decision is always between the hard spot and the rock. Decide just a wee bit too strictly and you are criticized. Take a chance on helping someone who just plain screwed up and you end up being seen as too lenient if anything goes wrong.

"As you know, fair or not, some are held to higher standards."

I suppose that's just the way it has to be. I would expect a doctor to be held to higher standards, and when I was teaching I certainly felt that the school and the parents had a right to hold me to a higher standard. I haven't talked about it with anyone who has worn a police uniform, but I would guess they would say the same thing--as long as the line in drawn in the right place.

Where's the right place? My guess is that the line should be drawn at the point where an action suggests moral turpitude. How is that defined? About the best definition I've seen goes like this: "An act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man."

Notice that's a very broad definition, but the words "baseness, vileness, or depravity" clearly set it above the minor mistakes that anyone can make.

The reason I select that level is because that's the level at which a person's testimony would not be accepted in a lawsuit, a teaching certificate would be revoked, a doctor or lawyer would no longer be allowed to practice, and a person would be denied an immigrant visa.

The way I look at it, if a doctor can do it and still practice medicine then it does not rise to the level of termination for a police officer, with the exception that if it directly involves his or her duties as a police officer then it becomes a different matter. For example, the officer who allowed someone to illegally reregister a motorcycle clearly failed in his duty to enforce the law.

"I agree that Chief Engler is doing the best that he can with what he has. I wish him well."

I think we all do.

You know something? This is a bit off the subject, but I do not think I would enjoy a job where everything I did was subject to public discussion. It wasn't a problem as a teacher. After all, I was one of many. But the top job? No thanks!

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Pat Randall 2 years, 2 months ago

When someone puts on a badge and carries a gun they should certainly set a good example and go by the same laws as the rest of us. Not use them to be able to do what ever they feel like doing. They are supposed to be protecting the public. The gun and badge doesn't always mean they are right.

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Dan Haapala 2 years, 2 months ago

As an ex Cop, as a conservative, as a believer in our U.S. Constitution, as an understanding citizen that it's always truth first, then let me make this this addition to this string.

If I accept a job, ANY JOB then I have pledged my honor to serve that master. I don't mean I'm a slave, I have the right to quit, However, with the acceptance of that job (if I am a person of honor) I must act with the belief that at any time I could be given a polygraph test (lie detection) and be expected to pass. That my responsibility is to help that owner make a profit so that they can stay in business and continue to serve the public,.....But further, the moment I believe, find, discover or determine that profit, unscroupulos behavior or corruption is involved ...........my obligation and responsibility ends.

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Tom Garrett 2 years, 2 months ago

Dan,

It's so simple, isn't it?

Work that up into an inviolable oath of office and let's go with it

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