Feature | Badgered: The cops’ union pressures Ralph Becker to go soft on police discipline | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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March 12, 2008 News » Cover Story

Feature | Badgered: The cops’ union pressures Ralph Becker to go soft on police discipline 

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Somebody’s Gotta Do It

A former Sandy police officer and state legislator, McCartney was slapped on the back and welcomed as one of the boys when he was named Police Civilian Review Board administrator/investigator in 2005. Nine months later, then-Police Chief Rick Dinse set down a litany of complaints against McCartney in a seven-page letter to then-Deputy Mayor Rocky Fluhart. The chief’s complaints boiled down to the review board sticking its nose where it didn’t belong.

One instance Dinse complained of was McCartney asking about the lack of cameras in police cars. The review board had asked McCartney to inquire, noting most discipline cases boiled down to an officer’s word, and cameras would make their jobs much easier. McCartney found money had been set aside for in-car cameras, but police department brass had never asked for them.

Dinse also complained about McCartney conducting an investigation on his own.

McCartney had received an anonymous tip that an investigation had taken place inside the police department but hadn’t made it to the Police Civilian Review Board. His investigation of whether or not there had been an internal-affairs investigation took one month and eventually found the tipster was right, according to a letter McCartney wrote responding to Dinse’s allegations. Police had probed allegations from police officers that a sergeant instructed them, “to execute unlawful orders that may be in direct violation of people’s constitutional rights.”

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The investigation had been filed away at the police department under “M,” for “miscellaneous.” That category, in the Police Department’s interpretation, meant it didn’t have to be turned over to the Civilian Review Board. The entire documentation of the investigation consisted of a single memo noting the allegation was determined to be unfounded. Uncharacteristically, McCartney decided not look further. He wrote the Anderson administration he’d received warnings from police that, “You better watch your back because there are some pissed off people right now.”

But McCartney didn’t completely cower, writing to the chief, “while I will do everything I can to minimize embarrassment to the department, I cannot and will not, be intimidated … The consequences of ignoring or whitewashing misconduct strike a damaging blow to the very foundation of our community.”

In 2006, the board audited the police department’s “M” files, discovering, according to board-meeting minutes, 15 files with allegations the board thought should have come to the board’s attention.

“It was almost as if some things were being swept into ‘M’ files, and we weren’t seeing them to review conduct that under any other circumstance the board would have wanted to see,” McCoy says. “The focus all of a sudden became on Ty, even though every step of the way the board was 100 percent backing him.”

The board appealed to the mayor and when Chris Burbank took over as police chief in mid-2006, it got access to the “M” files.

Chief Dinse also complained when the board in 2005 wrote up a police captain for interfering with an investigation. The captain was accused by the board of tipping the police union about evidence gathered against another officer. Three years later, that captain, Terry Fritz, is an assistant chief to Chris Burbank, himself the former head of Internal Affairs.

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