Highway trooper's reprimand letters tell their own tales | Buzz Blog
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Highway trooper's reprimand letters tell their own tales

Posted By on April 12, 2012, 11:02 PM

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Two letters of reprimand from supervisors to Utah Highway Patrol's Corporal Lisa Steed shed an intriguing light on the one-time Trooper of the Year's highly controversial and much criticized DUI enforcement work.---

The letters, which can be read below, paint a picture of a trooper who, while clearly valued and even admired by her superiors, also violates policies, has tried to cover up her violations, and put herself and others at risk. They suggest someone who is so determined to secure DUI arrests that orders from above or policy directives are of little consequence when it comes to snapping the bracelets on yet another addition to her arrest sheets. Read City Weekly's 2010 cover story on Steed here.

A May 14, 2010, letter references Steed's disobeying orders and policies in three incidents involving blood draws of DUI suspects at the road side.

While Lt. Steve Winward had told her to advise dispatch if she got out of her car on a stop, she did not do so in a late April 2010 stop, Sgt Robert Nixon wrote. She only did so after arresting the driver. 

That driver refused to have his blood drawn. Steed did not inform superiors of the non-consensual blood draw, proceeded to do it on her own, only to lose control of the situation when the driver, according to Nixon's letter, took the needle out of his arm, threatened her with it and took off. With the help of nearby civilians, Steed got the driver back into custody.

Blood draws on the roadside, Nixon wrote, are only done if it is "an exigent circumstance AND there were at least two officers on scene."  

Nixon noted not only was her behavior "in direct violation of department policy," it was also "an extremely unsafe thing to do."He later noted that "a DUI arrest is not worth your safety."

In a Nov. 3, 2010, letter from Nixon, Steed's use of the preliminary breath testers [or PBTs] came under fire from her supervisor. A driver she pulled over in March 10, 2010, accused her of using the PBT prior to field sobriety tests. Steed admitted to Nixon that was so. Steed also removed her external mic after her first approach to the vehicle. It was after that point, with her video camera detached and the road mic off that she had the driver blow in the PBT — unrecorded by audio or video.

Nixon reminded Steed that PBTs are not used to determine whether to put someone through field sobriety tests [in essence to see if she had snared a possible arrest, thus saving herself time], but only after the FSTs to assess if the "impairment you are seeing is coming from alcohol or possibly a drug or medication."

 Steed's supervisor wrote, "There is no logical reason to remove your external microphone to return to the vehicle. It may cause one to question if it was removed on purpose to administer the preliminary breath test."

Nixon, in this second letter recommending disciplinary action, however, sought to encourage as well as scold. He noted that Steed brings "a skill set that is very much needed in this day and age," and that she is "a very talented trooper and your work ethic is topped by none. You have no need to administer a PBT prior to tests. I encourage you to simply take the time to have the subject perform field sobriety tests and determine from there if they are impaired."  

Notice of Intent to Recommend Discipline

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