Feature | Final Shot: Salt Lake Police fired Rob Joseph nine years ago. He’s not about to get over it. 


nAs a child growing up in Queensland, Australia, Rob Joseph loved Serpico, the classic 1973 true-crime thriller featuring Al Pacino as “an honest cop” who turns state’s evidence about corruption in the NYPD. Serpico made Joseph want to be a policeman. n

“I thought that being a cop suited my desire to help people,” Joseph says. In retrospect, he adds, “That was gullible.” n

Joseph realized his childhood dream in 1997, joining the Salt Lake City Police Department at the advanced rookie age of 36. It took him 10 years because he first needed to become a U.S. citizen. But finally he had the badge and the gun. He was married to a future beauty queen and was quickly dubbed the “Hollywood cop” for his consultations on police movies filmed in the city. But his gig didn’t last. n

In 1999, just two years after joining the force, Joseph was fired in spectacular fashion—arrested based on evidence gathered by his own brothers in blue and charged with aggravated assault for shooting at a drunken driver. n

Typically, the story would end there. For Joseph, it was just the beginning. Convinced he was being set up as a sacrificial lamb by a city under pressure to rein in a shoot-first police department in time for the 2002 Winter Games, Joseph went Serpico on the SLCPD, charging he was a victim of police and political corruption. He’s driven city attorneys and generations of mayors and police administrators to distraction ever since. n

At 48, Joseph is a self-described anticorruption crusader and buddies with the real Frank Serpico. He’s spent the last nine years unwinding a conspiracy story surrounding his firing to rival any in the cop movies on which he’s worked. After years of suing in every court he could try—and getting thrown out of every one—Joseph finally convinced someone to take another look: a little-known Utah judicial body known as the Grand Jury Panel of Judges. n

Frank Serpico, he says, “encouraged me to keep fighting and never give up.” Joseph thought the advice was finally paying off.n

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Ted McDonough

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