Cottonwood Heights, UFA respond to police chief’s complaint about drug thefts

Posted at 8:12 PM, Oct 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-03 09:58:37-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Cottonwood Heights and the Unified Fire Authority issued press releases Thursday after Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo expressed concern regarding the handling of an alleged case of drug theft.

Russo told FOX 13 News the paramedic accused of stealing controlled substances may be tied to multiple drug thefts from stations, including some in Cottonwood Heights, and he said that paramedic was allowed to resign and did not face charges for the alleged crime. Click here for more on that story.

The two press releases issued in response Thursday are reproduced below in their entirety. Russo spoke with FOX 13 News again Thursday and said he is aware of both statements but said he stands behind the things he said in Wednesday’s story.

Statement from Cottonwood Heights:

“Since our incorporation in 2005, Cottonwood Heights has been a proud member of the Unified Fire Authority. The men and women who provide fire and emergency services to residents of Cottonwood Heights are trained professionals who serve our community well. We appreciate their efforts and reaffirm our support of them, our commitment to being a member of the UFA and our confidence in the services of the Unified Fire Authority. The city’s commitment to UFA is evidenced by the fact that Mayor Cullimore has served the UFA for a decade as a board member and as its Finance Committee chair.

Recent news reports have highlighted a disagreement between the Cottonwood Heights Police Department and the Unified Fire Authority over the recent handling of a theft of scheduled drugs from UFA stations that are not located in Cottonwood Heights. This crime is being investigated by the Unified Police Department, which is cooperating with the CHPD in sharing information regarding the UPD’s on-going investigation because it may help the CHPD to solve an open case regarding the theft in 2012 of scheduled drugs from several UFA stations that are located in Cottonwood Heights.

We regret the way this current issue is being characterized in recent media reports. While recognizing there may be ways to improve investigations into thefts of controlled substances within any government agency, we do not think this isolated incident suggests the existence of widespread problems within the UFA. In our opinion, such is not the case.

Cottonwood Heights is committed to working collaboratively with the UFA to resolve any differences and assure that citizens continue to receive the high level of professional services they have come to expect from the Unified Fire Authority. To the extent that we have contributed to any lack of communication, we commit to working more closely with those who provide critical fire and emergency services to our community. A decade of mutual commitment to providing dedicated public safety in Cottonwood Heights shouldn’t be tainted by public discourse over a single incident.”

Statement from Unified Fire Authority:

“Unified Fire Authority appreciates the clarifying efforts made by Cottonwood Heights in the press release it issued today. Unified Fire Authority wishes to add further information to inform the public about the issues involved and address some inaccuracies in the original media coverage.

All UFA Paramedics have been trained to identify any issues of tampered or adulterated medication. That training guarantees that the public has never been and never will be at risk.

The Unified Police Department currently has an active investigation of isolated incidents involving two UFA stations. The Unified Fire Authority has cooperated in every investigation that has been conducted and will continue to cooperate in the current investigation. It has provided all information and evidence requested by law enforcement that can be released under state and federal law.

With regard to the employee in question, Unified Fire Authority notified the Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (BEMS) immediately. Questions about medical certification should be directed to that agency.

Cottonwood Heights has been a valued member of the Unified Fire Authority since its creation. Unified Fire Authority looks forward to continuing that productive relationship.”