Police agencies aren’t reporting cases of misconduct like they’re required to by law, audit claims

Posted at 9:47 AM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-30 11:49:17-05

SALT LAKE CITY — An audit of the agency that certifies and disciplines police officers finds law enforcement isn’t reporting some cases of misconduct by cops as required by law.

Utah State Auditor John Dougall’s report also found that Utah’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) is a little light on discipline compared to other states. The audit, unveiled Wednesday, offered some tough criticism for POST and called on the legislature to change laws to make it tougher for officers to lie to investigators.

The audit found six instances from 2013 to 2018 where police agencies did not refer officer misconduct cases to POST for discipline.

“Because these cases were not reported, POST’s ability to manage and control officer
certification is diminished, and some officers have likely avoided POST Council‐imposed
discipline against their peace officer certification,” the audit said.

In response, POST said it does not have the ability to audit law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance.

“All cases of police misconduct that are brought to POST’s attention and meet the standards of a POST investigation are investigated,” POST executive director Scott Stephenson wrote to auditors.

Dougall also said that compared to other states, POST is lenient on officer discipline. Stephenson countered that for some offenses that may be true, but for others POST is more severe.

“The POST staff will present the audit findings concerning the sanctioning practices of surrounding states to POST Council. However, the POST staff has no influence on the Council’s final determination of discipline,” he wrote.

The POST Council is made up of law enforcement representatives and civic leaders and meets quarterly to hand out discipline for police misconduct. In many cases, officers in trouble show up to plead their case. Sometimes, those personal stories do result in a lessening of the offense. In other instances, it has the opposite effect.

Read the full audit here (refresh the page if it doesn’t immediately load):