A number of fellow northern Utah police officers have gone on record protesting the recent dismissal of South Ogden Police Sgt. Randy Rhodes.
In all, 15 officers signed a letter to a local newspaper supporting Rhodes and criticizing South Ogden officials."Basically . . . it has to do with a violation of civil rights by a city government," said Riverdale officer Glen W. Peterson, one of those who signed the letter.
Rhodes was fired Aug. 29 by Mayor Lew Wangsgard and Chief Alma Richins, who said they had evidence that Rhodes was falsifying his time cards to show he was working when he wasn't.
Rhodes denied the charges and filed an $8 million federal lawsuit against the city, the mayor and the police chief.
South Ogden has filed a counterclaim, denying wrongdoing and demanding reimbursement for the money it maintains Rhodes received in falsifying time cards.
Washington Terrace officer Mel Hackworth, a former South Ogden officer, said the letter to the editor was to support Rhodes and "put a slam against the mayor and the chief of police" of South Ogden.
"The problem is, I think more of Randy Rhodes than I do of Richins," Hackworth said. Richins, he said, "just shouldn't even be a cop, much less a police chief."
Wangsgard dismissed the officers' letter as what "some jealous police officers from other cities might say."
"We all feel he was railroaded into this thing," Peterson said of Rhodes. "They were looking for reasons to fire Randy" because South Ogden has been trying to rid itself of the high salaries veterans earn.
Rhodes was the third officer pushed off the force by Wangsgard and Richins, said the letter.
Wangsgard said the officers who have left had problems with training or job competence and "were just not good-quality officers. They just didn't measure up, at least he (Hackworth) didn't."