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West Valley police stole money, 'trophies,' maybe drugs, audit finds

Published: Friday, April 12 2013 4:25 p.m. MDT

“Some of these problems as we did our audit were up to two years ago within this particular unit,” Schwemmer said.

The acting chief maintained that such problems were contained within the narcotics unit, although other departments have also been reviewed internally, including the Special Investigations Unit.

As the investigation developed, Gill dismissed 19 criminal drug cases connected to Cowley and said as many as 100 more cases could be dismissed. Eight federal cases from West Valley police were also dismissed Tuesday by the U.S. District Attorney's Office.

As FBI, West Valley police and the district attorney's office continue to investigate, Gill said he hopes other cases won't be compromised, but the issues look to have a "fairly severe and dramatic impact" on cases already in the system.

It is still unknown whether officers in the narcotics unit will face criminal charges, he said.

Gill expressed concern about the department's ability to serve the community should more problems be discovered.

"I think it is currently devastating to West Valley City and its community and law enforcement agency," he said. "I don't think the community or the agency can survive an expansion of this scope, and I don't think anyone wants it to."

Gill said Friday that anyone who would imply such violations were minor underplays the seriousness of the officers' actions.

"There are people out there who may not find the measure of justice they deserve because we may end up having to dismiss some cases with no fault of these victims out there, and certainly no fault of our community," he said.

In response to accusations that the cause of the narcotics unit's problems lies with its leadership, Schwemmer asserted her confidence in the department's commanders.

The officers' transgressions discussed Friday were outside written department policy and the officers' training, Schwemmer said. 

Pyle expressed his disappointment at the problems revealed in the department's internal audit, simultaneously praising the review processes that discovered them. 

"When we discover problems, we take care of those problems," he said. "It's happened in the past and, unfortunately, will probably happen again, humans being humans." 

E-mail: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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