UHP comes under fire over internal memo questioning trooper's arrest practices
Michael Brandy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Highway Patrol has come under fire over a memo leaked to the media this week that questions a discredited trooper's DUI arrest practices as far back as 2010.
Lisa Steed, UHP's Trooper of the Year in 2009, was re-assigned to a non-law enforcement position in April after it was revealed in 3rd District Court that she violated department policies by issuing a Breathalyzer test before conducting a field sobriety test and purposely leaving her microphone in her cruiser that would have recorded 2010 traffic stop.
That revelation led to at least two of Steed's DUI cases being thrown out after judges questioned her credibility as a witness.
In an internal memo from Sgt. Rob Nixon to his section commander at the time, Lt. Steve Winward, Nixon identifies 11 of Steed's DUI arrests in which no impairing drugs were found in the defendants' systems.
On Friday, UHP officials said the 2010 memo never should have been made public.
"How that record got released and how it made it into circulation, we're not aware of how that happened," UHP Maj. Michael Rapich said during a news conference Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, Salt Lake City media outlets made public a 2010 memo in which Nixon wrote he had reviewed 20 of Steed's 2009 DUI-drug reports where the person arrested was allegedly impaired on marijuana. On four of those instances, those stopped by Steed had no drugs in their systems, and seven others showed only metabolite — traces of a controlled substance — but no impairing drugs in their systems.
"I feel this is a pattern," Nixon's memo states. "This is something that needs to be addressed before defense attorneys catch on and her credibility, along with the DUI squad's credibility, is compromised."
Rapich said the information in the memo is private. And he said accusations that UHP was aware of Steed's questionable arrest practices in 2010 and covered them up are unfounded.
"Clearly the section commander felt that there was something that needed to be addressed there, and it was addressed," Rapich said. "How that was done and the steps that were taken, those were performance-related issues, and I can't go into specifically what they were."
Rapich said that there are four phases of discipline — written referendum, suspension, demotion and dismissal. He said the department had no reason to proceed with those actions in Steed's case at the time the memo was written.
"Had either the first-line supervisor or the section commander felt that it was to a point that (Steed) needed to be released from the DUI squad, they would have done so," Rapich said.
- Which U.S. cities are the best for upward...
- Jury orders Siegfried and Jensen to pay...
- IRS commits to not target tax-exempt status...
- LDS Church relationship with Boy Scouts in...
- Motley Crue concert delayed about two hours...
- Wanted Layton man dies in New Mexico plane crash
- Imagine Dragons treated like home team at...
- What consumers need to know about chip...
- LDS Church relationship with Boy Scouts... 300
- Boy Scouts in Utah, nation face... 141
- LDS Church 're-evaluating' Scouting... 107
- Profane and acclaimed: 'The Book of... 77
- Most Utahns oppose Supreme Court ruling... 68
- Lee takes on new strategy in fight... 45
- IRS commits to not target tax-exempt... 42
- Is report on building prison in Draper... 36