Ogden cop probe nears end

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Posted: 3:25 PM- OGDEN - An internal-affairs investigation into Ogden Police Officer Matt Jones, who was placed on leave four months ago, is winding down.

The probe now is essentially in the lap of Assistant Police Chief Wayne Tarwater, who will review reports and make a recommendation to Chief Jon Greiner.

Tarwater said Wednesday he does not expect the inquiry to take much longer. "It will be finished when it's finished," he said.

Lt. Tony Fox said he wrapped up his share of the investigation two weeks ago. Lt. John Stubbs said he is not completely finished with his portion.

Jones was suspended July 27, hours after Mayor Matthew Godfrey linked him to a van that had been parked around the city for the previous 10 days, blaming the mayor for a new pay policy that officers believed tied their raises to the number of traffic citations they wrote.

Though Greiner called Jones' involvement an "embarrassment," he has insisted that his decision to suspend Jones that same evening was a coincidence. He said he had intended to suspend Jones earlier that day.

Jones is being investigated in connection with reports of stolen wallets during traffic stops and during a search.

Jones said Wednesday he has been given no date for when the Ogden Police Department might put him back to work or initiate disciplinary action.

"You'd think if they had some evidence, they would have fired me by now," he said. "If they don't have evidence, I don't know why it's taking so long."

Jones is being paid while on leave, but was stripped of his badge and gun and so is not able to earn supplemental income working as a security guard

An investigation by Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria, requested by the mayor after the public uproar over Jones' suspension, questioned the chief's assertion of a coincidence. It also noted that a lieutenant that day advised Greiner - who earlier this month was elected to the Legislature - against suspending Jones or any other officer in connection with an alleged wallet theft.

Nonetheless, Greiner probably had sufficient reason to put Jones on leave, given that the officer was on duty the two times that Latino citizens reported wallets stolen during traffic stops, DeCaria said in the report.

The DeCaria report found insufficient evidence to believe Jones committed any crime July 15 or Feb. 18, the two times that Latino citizens claimed wallets were swiped. In the July case, Jones was one of 10 officers on duty. In February, he was one of 25, although the alleged victim picked his and two other officers' photos out as possible suspects.

An internal-affairs investigation into the February incident was closed without any personnel action or criminal charges.

Police administrators told DeCaria of a third allegation involving a pilfered wallet during execution of a search warrant, but the county attorney found insufficient evidence to conclude Jones was involved.

Jones was disciplined with a two-day suspension last spring when he took home baby chicks after a raid on a cockfight. Jones said he offered to take the chicks home because he lives on a farm, but failed to ask for permission from his superior.