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Sandy • A drunk-driving conviction earned a Washington County Sheriff's lieutenant three-year suspension of his police powers on Monday, and a Salt Lake City police officer had his authority revoked over a disputed episode at a burglary scene.
The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council disciplined 12 current or former officers at its quarterly meeting.
Jake Adams, the former Washington County lieutenant, appeared before the council to ask for leniency. The council's staff recommended the four-year suspension for Adams for driving drunk in a sheriff's vehicle with his four children as passengers. Everyone received minor injuries when Adams rolled the vehicle. Tests determined he had a blood-alcohol level three times above the legal limit.
Adams, 40, pleaded guilty to a class A misdemeanor and spent two weeks in jail. Adams said he's grateful he only lost his career.
"And now I have made the decision to be an example of what to do instead of what not to do," Adams told the council.
His attorney, Bret Rawson, told the council Adams has lost 50 pounds since he quit drinking. Rawson also said a four-year suspension would be punitive since it would mean Adams would have to go through training at the state's police academy again. A shorter suspension would allow Adams to resume his law enforcement career as soon as an agency hired him.
St. George police chief Marlon Stratton was among council members who wanted to give Adams a three-year suspension, noting that other peace officers who drove drunk received lighter penalties. But some members considered the presence of Adams' children and his high blood-alcohol level to be aggravating factors. The council voted 7-4 to suspend him for three years.
Later in the meeting, the council heard the case of veteran Salt Lake City police officer Robert R. Randell. In an earlier proceeding, an administrative law judge found Randell twice struck a handcuffed suspect at a burglary scene and then lied to investigators about it. The council's staff recommended Randell's police certification be revoked.
But Randell's attorney, James Tanner, asked the council to ignore the judge's findings and impose a suspension or no punishment. He said the judge made flawed findings based on contradictory statements.
Randell, Tanner said, saw the burglary suspect move toward Randell's holstered weapon and Randell placed one hand on the suspect and another hand under the suspect's chin to gain his compliance.
When asked about the episode later, Tanner said, Randell didn't consider what happened to be striking the suspect.
In discussing his case, council member Daniel Fuhr, commander of the Utah Highway Patrol, cited the judge's findings that Randell lied to investigators. The council voted unanimously to revoke Randell's certification. Salt Lake City police Chief Chris Burbank, also a council member, abstained from the discussion and the vote.
The council issued a three-year suspension to former Summit County corrections officer Tony Ewell. Ewell admitted to stealing pain killers from the jail's medication supply, according to the council's findings. After he resigned, he was found shoplifting toys from a store while wearing clothes that said Summit County Sheriff's Office on them.
Other discipline cases Monday:
Cache County Sheriff's Office, Justin L. Curtis, one-year suspension for theft by deception.
Lone Peak Police, Martha Marie Zeeman, one-year suspension for false information on a police report.
Police cadets, Rebecka L. Burts, revocation for false information on an application; Blake C. Roundy, six-month suspension for illegal discharge of a firearm and littering.
Utah Department of Public Safety, Zachary R. Hunt, two-year suspension for falsifying an application.
Utah Department of Corrections, Larry Sprietzer, one-year suspension for theft.
Utah Highway Patrol, Michael Pope, 2 1/2-year suspension for domestic violence in the presence of a child.
Wasatch County Constables, Peter Wolcott, two-year suspension for false information on an application.
Weber County Sheriff's Office, Sean P. Berendt, one-year suspension for criminal mischief, domestic violence in the presence of a child and disruption of a communications device.
Canine training for police cadets
The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council on Monday approved a plan to train cadets on dog behavior, encountering hostile dogs and alternatives to using force.
If the pilot program is successful, it could be expanded to police training programs across the state later this year.
Lt. Wade Bruer, who oversees training at the state's police academy, said previous cadet classes only learned how to interact with police dogs, such as those that sniff for drugs or bombs. Cadets will spend one or two hours learning about pet dogs, and that training may increase to up to eight hours depending on the success of the pilot program, Bruer said.
The training also could be expanded to police officers already on the job.
Police and pet dogs became a hot topic in Utah last year after a Salt Lake City officer searching for a lost boy encountered a dog named Geist in a backyard. The officer shot and killed Geist, sparking an outcry.