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Investigation report details behavior that led to firing of Sandy Police Chief Kevin Thacker

Posted at 7:13 PM, Apr 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-27 09:45:31-04

SANDY, Utah -- Authorities have released a redacted version of an independent investigation into Sandy Police Department that resulted in the firing of Chief Kevin Thacker.

Mayor Kurt Bradburn terminated Thacker Tuesday afternoon and said the chief had been on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation, which was released Thursday.

"I don't revel in this; there's nothing easy about this," Mayor Bradburn said."It's been an emotional time for me, and as I read and hear what these victims had to endure for so long..."

The investigation conducted by the law firm of Scott A. Hagen, Ray Quinney and Nebeker found that Chief Thacker "uses physical contact in demonstrating emotional support" for his employees but that he hugs women regularly while only hugging men rarely.

Multiple women who were hugged by Thacker, as well as several male witnesses, described the hugs as having continued for too long and made those present feel awkward.

They also noted the hugs were often "chest-to-chest" and that Thacker would press his chest against employee's breasts and rub his hand up and down their back across their bra straps while placing his cheek against theirs.

Thacker also reportedly gave side hugs on some occasions and would rub his hand on women's bodies, along their bra strap and sometimes on the side of their breasts. Other physical contact included touching hands, necks or shoulders and patting upper thighs.

The report also indicates that Thacker was made aware of complaints about his behavior some time ago and that he gave a full apology and promised to stop the behavior, however, numerous women and witnesses indicated the behavior did not stop. The report was redacted to obscure the timeline of that earlier complaint.

Several women who were interviewed said the physical contact was not welcome, and several men described the behavior as "unprofessional and embarrassing."

One witness said that she initially declined to let Thacker make such contact, but she said after he became less friendly toward her she allowed the hugs and other contact and "'plays the game' to get promoted and to protect her job."

"Many of these witnesses and victims felt like their hands were tied and like they had to participate unwillingly in their work environment to be OK," Mayor Bradburn said.

Other witnesses and female employees said the chief had a reputation for such behavior and was known as a "hugger". Another employee told investigators that when Thacker hugged women, it felt a little like he was trying to "cop a feel".

While the investigators note that the contact was unwanted and repeated, they state "I found no evidence that Chief Thacker has committed any actual sexual assault, nor any evidence of overtly sexual contact between him and any female employee, whether consensual or not."

Deputy Police Chief William O’Neal, who has been serving as the interim chief since Thacker was placed on administrative leave, will continue in that role as the city of Sandy conducts a nationwide job search.

"I think about my wife or my daughter in that situation, having to show up to work to having to consent to their body being touched in a way they don't want, and that's not something I'm willing to tolerate," Bradburn said.

Watch Fox 13 News at Nine Thursday for more on this story.

The redacted report as released by Sandy City is available below:

Redacted report of investigation into Sandy Police Department by kstumarkgreen on Scribd