A slew of salacious pictures and sexually explicit cell phone messages have prompted the demotion of a Payson police officer, for the second time in a year.
Josh LaManna, a veteran officer, was demoted from a narcotics officer to a patrol officer in May and given a 10-percent pay cut for a string of violations, including sending a photograph of his genitals to a confidential police informant.
Chief Don Engler said in a report that LaManna had brought dishonor and discredit to the department.
The demotion comes just months after then-Lt. Donald Garvin was demoted to sergeant after carrying on several relationships, including an affair with the wife of a Department of Public Safety officer and another with a woman applying for a job with the police force. Engler warned Garvin to end both relationships.
LaManna’s behavior raised some of the same issues, according to a police report acquired by the Roundup through a Freedom of Information request.
The detailed investigations of Garvin and LaManna paint a picture of a police force plagued by drinking incidents in bars, affairs and questionable judgment.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said “I think the personal impact on the families ought to make it pretty clear to anyone who is considering something like this, that the town standard is going to be enforced.”
Evans said he hoped the two cases would prove to be isolated incidents.
“There seems to be a wider, general public perception that certain behaviors utilizing social media that would never be accepted in another form seem to be OK. Maybe it’s a generational theme, but as long as I’m here, that old-fashioned approach is going to be the standard,” he said.
While Garvin was single at the time of the alleged relationships, LaManna is married.
Sometime in early April, LaManna met a 28-year-old Payson woman who had agreed to work as a confidential informant for the department after getting in trouble on undisclosed charges, according to a police report.
The woman would buy drugs and then turn them over to LaManna and Sgt. Jason Hazelo who worked on the special enforcement unit.
One Sunday evening, she met LaManna and Hazelo and turned over drugs she had purchased. As LaManna was patting the woman down, Hazelo stepped off to the side to take a phone call. LaManna continued his search, making several flirtatious comments, according to Engler’s report.
Later that night, the woman received several text messages from LaManna, one instructing the woman to contact him on his personal cell phone and not his work line because he could get in trouble, the woman later told Engler.
“I just got to be careful not to get caught,” LaManna texted, adding, “…when I reached into those front pockets I was hoping to slip a bit. Maybe, holes in your pockets.”
The woman maintained she told LaManna to stop texting her repeatedly. However, a phone record revealed the woman “was more of an active participant in this matter than she had initially reported,” Engler said.
In fact, every message the woman sent telling LaManna to stop, failed to go through, according to the report. A record of LaManna’s text messages shows that they carried on a conversation for at least several days. LaManna texted the woman that he imagined her while he slept with his wife and could not wait to see her breasts.
He repeatedly asked her to send a picture of her breasts and sent her a photograph of his genitals. He assured the woman that he could “pull off just about anything” and was “excessively secret.”
When questioned, LaManna admitted to the relationship, saying the text messages had “evolved into very illicit sexual messages.”
However, LaManna argued that the conversations occurred when he was off duty and were consensual, since the woman also sent flirtatious messages.
Regardless, Engler found that LaManna’s inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant not only violated the code of ethics, but also put criminal cases at risk.
In addition, Engler learned LaManna had discussed classified information with his wife, which was shared in the community.
LaManna was also delinquent in completing police reports, although he led supervisors to believe that they were current.
This came on top of the five other times LaManna was disciplined.
On Aug. 3, 2010 supervisors wrote up LaManna for drinking excessively at the Buffalo Bar. On Sept. 14, he received a reprimand for requesting time off and then attending a barbecue with a potential informant and on Sept. 28, for “his lack of understanding the trust of the public, his consumption of alcohol and reports.”
On Feb. 1, 2011 supervisors again reprimanded him for “lack of activity and use of his personal phone.”
LaManna will now serve a year of disciplinary probation, during which time he can have no outstanding reports or disciplinary action. As a patrol officer, he will make $24.45 an hour, a $2.55 cut.