Ogden says fired cop failed on lie detector
City responds to statements by officer during long-running feud with bosses
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Fired Ogden police officer Matt Jones failed a lie-detector test concerning the thefts of wallets from two undocumented immigrants, the police department said in a news release Monday.

The test was disclosed for the first time by the department, which said in the release that it felt compelled to respond publicly to Jones' statements about why he was fired.

Late last week, the three-year officer was terminated by Chief Jon Greiner - who also is a state senator representing Ogden. Jones said he intends to file, on Wednesday, a Civil Service Commission appeal.

The former officer contends he was fired on trumped-up charges because he embarrassed Greiner and Mayor Matthew Godfrey last summer.

Jones had been involved in a campaign criticizing a city policy to tie traffic officer pay raises to the number of tickets they write. He was placed on administrative leave within hours of being identified as one of the officers involved in the campaign.

But the statement from the Ogden Police Department offers another explanation for his suspension.

"The resulting investigation demonstrated that Jones fit the description of the officer involved in the two thefts, that he was in the vicinity when the thefts occurred, that Jones had a pattern of targeting Hispanics, and that Jones had a pattern of manipulating and misrepresenting information about his activities and whereabouts on the job, thereby creating blocks of free time during which he was unaccountable to his employer," the statement said.

The city's investigation cleared other officers who might have stolen the wallets, the statement said.

Jones said he willingly took the lie-detector test, administered by a Davis County expert, because he was certain it would clear him.

"There is a reason they [lie-detector test results] are not admissible in court. They are not that reliable, and they can easily be manipulated."

Jones noted that the two undocumented immigrants who reported stolen wallets were not able to pick him out of a photo lineup. A previous investigation by Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Jones for the thefts.

Jones denies targeting Latinos, but acknowledges that he saw it as his duty to pursue cases in which he suspected laws - beyond traffic laws - were violated by undocumented immigrants.

He had argued with a lieutenant, he said, over the fact that he was investigating three immigrants for possible fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and asked for case numbers midway through the investigation rather than at the start. He had pulled them over on traffic stops. The department, in its statement, maintained that Jones had obtained case numbers for three cases - before even making the traffic stops to which he later applied the numbers.

Among the serious policy violations and acts of misconduct, the department said, were that Jones falsely reported his location and activities to police dispatch on several occasions, disobeyed a sergeant's direct order and concealed it, wrote investigative reports before even arriving on the scene of dispatched calls, failed to notify dispatchers when he made traffic stops, making it impossible to track his activity unless he decided to issue a ticket, and was dishonest and insubordinate to investigators.

Jones acknowledged that he committed many of the policy violations. But he contended that busy officers every day make the same mistakes in order to stay on top of a high number of calls.

For instance, he said, he violated policy by not telling dispatchers when he was finished with a second call - a move that gave him time to finish a report on a first call, he said. Jones also contended that the department did not discipline him for any of the alleged violations until his superiors were looking for a reason to fire him.

kmoulton@sltrib.com

Matt Jones said he will appeal his firing to Ogden's Civil Service Commission, a three-member citizen panel that hears appeals of police and fire department employees.

Legislation passed last year at the behest of Ogden City would have allowed the city to eliminate the commission. The City Council declined to do so.