Salt Lake City Councilwoman Nancy Saxton is on the warpath. And she is swinging her ax at the head of the city’s Police Civilian Review Board (CRB), the body that oversees police misconduct.
She says the CRB is broken because of its independent investigator—former state legislator and one-time Sandy cop Ty McCartney. Saxton contends McCartney gives biased reports to the board, sends privileged information via unsecured emails, and has been disingenuous about his past—all of which cast doubt on the board’s impartiality.
“It is essential that the investigator be honest and have integrity,” Saxton says. “And that is what has not been happening.”
Saxton appears to be alone in this fight. No one knows where her information is coming from, and she isn’t telling. Her characterizations of CRB activity, however, sound remarkably like those of Salt Lake Police Association union President Tom Gallegos who, according to a May 8 story in The Salt Lake Tribune, has been spreading anti-McCartney innuendo.
Mayor Rocky Anderson, a longtime critic of Saxton, and McCartney question the legitimacy of her information.
For several months now, the CRB—given new oversight powers in 2002 by Anderson—has been at the center of a confounding scandal.
Much of Saxton’s criticism arises from media stories attribunted to anonymous sources about an ongoing investigation into a police-misconduct case. The leaks sparked an investigation of the CRB by the Police Department and the city, a move that angered CRB board members. All but five of the 14 members resigned in protest. The vacancies have since been filled, but the shakeup has raised doubts about the CRB’s long-term survival.
Recently, tempers have cooled—except for Saxton’s. In June, she voted against the city budget because it didn’t pull funding from the CRB. In July, when new members of the CRB were sworn in, Saxton said that nothing would change unless the CRB’s leadership was replaced, too.
The root of the problems, Saxton says, is board investigator McCartney. As the all-volunteer panel’s investigator, he is privy to the police department’s internal affairs investigations into alleged police misconduct. After each investigation, McCartney summarizes the huge files into a digestible size for the CRB.
”For me,” Saxton says, “if you have problems with the board you make the leader aware and, if they don’t stop them, you go to the top and that’s who is responsible.”
The mayor disagrees. “Nancy Saxton is on a witch hunt,” Anderson says. “Ty McCartney has conducted himself with total integrity.”
For some city council members, the CRB has its issues, but it can be salvaged.
“The success of this board is in question right now because of the leaks,” says Jill Remington Love, council vice chairwoman. But she is willing to give McCartney and the new board members the benefit of the doubt.
Council Chairman Van Turner agrees. “Nancy says it’s broke. I think we can make it function.”
Even Police Chief Chris Burbank is satisfied with the board’s progress, despite its rocky past. “We are satisfied right now with the CRB. We need to make some improvements but are moving forward,” he says.
Saxton, however, hasn’t seen enough progress. Her laundry list against McCartney is testament to that.
Her main critique of McCartney is his alleged past dishonesty. She alleges when he ran for the state senate in 2006 from District 7, he wasn’t living in the district.
McCartney, a former state representative, denies such charges as does the former state chairman of the Democratic Party, Donald Dunn. “As far as I know, he did live in the district,” Dunn says. And, according to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, McCartney was registered to vote in Holladay, which included part of his Senate district.
Saxton adds that McCartney lied in a 1997 internal-affairs investigation when he was a Sandy police officer, which McCartney argues is an idea floated by union leader Gallegos. “This is nothing more than a smear campaign. It’s a mischaracterization of the events that occurred. I left on good terms,” McCartney says.
Additionally, Saxton takes issue with alleged unsecured e-mails McCartney sent to the CRB. “Secure information was going through open e-mails,” she says.
McCartney says all e-mails pertaining to CRB business are password-secure.
According to Saxton, all of this casts doubts on McCartney’s abilities as an investigator. “What’s been happening,” she says, “is that the investigator, instead of giving an overview [to the CRB] would give one specific aspect. So, when the decisions were coming down, they weren’t based on all the information.”
But the police department has made no such claims. “It’s not Ty, per se,” Chief Burbank says. “There haven’t been any public statements in regard to Ty McCartney skewing reports.”
Adds Anderson: “It certainly makes one wonder where [Saxton] is getting her information if not from the police union; especially since there seems to be some personal animosity between the head of the police union and the CRB investigator.”
Gallegos did not return numerous phone calls requesting his comment.
City Council members not privy to Saxton’s sources also question the genesis of her accusations. “I don’t know were she’s getting her information,” Turner says.
Saxton denies that her information is based on rumor. She says she came by it from “friends and constituents.”
Saxton says, “The people who have suggested the information is tainted when it goes to the board are confidential. I don’t want the chief to lose his job because everyone thinks the police department is out of control [because of the CRB].”