November 1, 2011

Sex Offenses Most Common Officer Misconduct

11-1-2011 Utah:

Utah police officers most frequently lose their certification or are suspended from their jobs after sexual misconduct offenses.

Officers from agencies small and large commit sex offenses more often than any other offense, including excessive force, falsifying reports or driving under the influence, according to data from the state's Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (POST).

Among the offenses: rape, attempted sodomy; child sex abuse; and having sex with inmates, parolees or people on probation.

An analysis of records by The Salt Lake Tribune showed that of 94 officers whose certifications were revoked between 2000 and 2005, 42 were accused of sexual offenses. Over the same five year period, another 22 officers were suspended for the same reason.

In another 1,000 disciplinary cases reviewed by the POST Council between 1991 and 2003, 212 cases -- or 21 percent -- included sexual offenses. Only 12 complaints of excessive force were investigated during the same 12-year period, records show.

This year alone, POST has decertified corrections officers in Davis, Millard and Washington counties, and a South Salt Lake police officers for sexual offenses.

"It has ballooned in the last couple of years, and it's alarming to us. We're very concerned about the trends," said POST Director Rich Townsend.

But not all the cases result in criminal prosecution. As Townsend explains, the offenses may be ethical violation, but they don't always fit into criminal offenses defined by the state.

And some violations never make it as far as POST. Some police chiefs and sheriff fail to report misconduct, Townsend said.

"Law enforcement needs to be concerned," Townsend said. "Law enforcement administrators better wake up and be concerned because, again, so much hope is placed in the integrity of the profession." ..Source.. by Brian Hill

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