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ACLU, FOP, and BLM are all 'concerned' with video of Sheriff Jared Rigby

Rigby's appointment to a powerful state position remains on hold as he faces accusations of "bullying" and "intimidation"
Posted at 9:16 PM, Jan 18, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Three groups, sometimes on opposite sides, are all coming together with the same concerns about Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby.

Rigby is accused of recording himself "bullying" and "intimidating" a police officer as part of a use-of-force investigation into Chief Dave Booth of the Heber City Police Department.

Last week, he was getting ready to be sworn in as one of Utah’s top law enforcement officials.

As the state-appointed director of Utah POST, or Peace Officer Standards and Training, Rigby would have overseen the training and certification of the approximately 9,000 officers, deputies, and troopers across Utah.

In anticipation of a FOX 13 News report, less than 48 hours prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Rigby’s appointment was suddenly postponed and has not been rescheduled.

The following groups have voiced support for that decision:

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Utah (ACLU)
  • Utah Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)
  • Black Lives Matter Utah (BLM)

Governor Spencer Cox will have the final say on whether the "witness intimidation" video is a dealbreaker for Rigby's appointment.

A review of the full video shows there are several portions of the interview where Rigby discusses the Officer Lucas McTaggart's potential lack of a future within the Heber City Police Department.

"What you’re saying is not changing my perspective of what I saw. Nothing’s going to change that. That’s why we’re here, right?" asked McTaggart.

"Well, Lucas, it really comes down to the future - your future in the police department," Rigby responded. "So you can dig in your heels and say, 'This is how I feel and no one’s going to change,' and okay, that’s your decision. You just won’t get any trusted positions having to do with (defensive tactics), and use of force, and sergeant, and those kinds of things, because you’re not willing to learn and be open minded to it.”

"This is the determination," Rigby later said. "You’re gonna have to wrap your mind around it, and then from here on out move in that direction, at least if you’re going to work for Heber."

After his interview with Rigby, McTaggart searched for a new job.

He left Heber City PD and started working for a federal law enforcement agency.

Two other officers also left the department and accused the city of retaliation. The case was settled for $7,800.

Scott Stephenson, the executive director of Utah Fraternal Order of Police, wrote a letter to the governor urging him to not move forward with the appointment.

"When I saw that video, for me, it was pretty -- I was surprised to say the least," Stephenson said. "(Rigby's) opinion is concerning to me, and probably should be with the public."

Stephenson knows a thing or two about the job. He was the director of POST until his retirement in 2022.

"Sheriff Rigby made blatantly unprofessional statements regarding the officer's future within the department," he wrote to the governor. "These statements exposed a preconceived conclusion for the outcome that did not appear to be consistent with State law nor established internal investigation practices. As you can certainly appreciate, there is a critical need for trust between the officers, the public and POST that investigations will be conducted impartially and professionally, without bias."

FOX 13 Investigates: Fact-checking 7 statements made by Sheriff Jared Rigby and his team

"The video of (Rigby) intimidating the officer was sickening," said Rae Duckworth, operating chairperson for Black Lives Matter Utah. "You’re witnessing gaslighting, but it’s not just regular gaslighting. It’s gaslighting with power."

According to ACLU of Utah:

"We are concerned about Sheriff Rigby's consideration as the POST Director based on reported facts. Sheriff Rigby, if sworn in as the POST Director, would oversee the public agency with ultimate oversight on police misconduct for the entire state. The importance of supporting and safeguarding trust and accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve cannot be overstated."

Rigby declined to answer questions about the video when interviewed by FOX 13 News in December.

He has since ignored multiple requests for comment.

Instead, he posted a "selfie" video on Friday night at 11:04 pm.

"It was in no way my intention to come across threatening in any way," Rigby said in the video.

Closed-door meeting

Rigby and several of his supporters met with representatives from the Governor's Office on Wednesday morning to lobby on his behalf.
The following individuals were invited to attend:

  • Sheriff Jared Rigby, Wasatch County Sheriff's Office
  • Blake Hamilton, Rigby's attorney
  • Commissioner Jess Anderson, Utah Department of Public Safety
  • Chief Wade Carpenter, Park City Police Department
  • Chief Ken Wallentine, West Jordan Police Department
  • Sheriff Mike Smith, Utah County Sheriff's Office
  • Scott Stephenson, Fraternal Order of Police
  • Brent Jex, Fraternal Order of Police

So far, everyone in that meeting has declined to comment.
Duckworth said she hopes Cox makes the "correct" decision.

"Dear Governor Cox, we would really highly appreciate you listening to community members," Duckworth said. "That's how he got elected into his position, because he promised to listen to the people. I hope he listens, and if he doesn't, we'll hold him accountable. Utah deserves that."

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