And to think, some lawmakers didn't want you to know about this.
Had the Legislature passed Senate Bill 260 earlier this year, the government could have made all charges and disciplinary actions against peace officers closed to the public. If that were the case, no one outside official circles would have known about the record 35 cases of officer misconduct that resulted in disciplinary actions announced this week by the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.
Those cases were made public during POST's quarterly meeting. Officials said they are not a sign that crooked police are running rampant in Utah. The board simply brought a lot of ongoing cases to a resolution all at once. Nevertheless, they represent serious problems about which the public has an interest in knowing.
Many of the cases involved sexual abuse. One of the most disturbing involved a Salt Lake City police officer who pulled a woman over under the suspicion she was driving drunk, then later allegedly had sex with her. The details of the incident remain in question and are the subject of a federal lawsuit, but the officer had his police certification revoked.
Also, four Utah County sheriff's deputies were disciplined for their part in a jailhouse sex scandal. Helper's police chief lost his certification for lying to investigators about sexual misconduct with a former secretary. And the former head of the Utah Highway Patrol's anti-DUI squad was suspended for four years after a drunken driving accident in 2006. Those are just some of the cases made public this week.
Of all public servants, peace officers are the ones most in need of the public's confidence and respect. They are the faces of the law, which delineates right from wrong and sets standards for an orderly society. People rely on them to be fair and judicious, as well as to abide by the laws they are enforcing.
We commend POST for taking a hard line on misdeeds, setting a tone that ought to permeate all police agencies.
And we're glad Utah lawmakers had the sense to defeat SB260. Nothing prompts thorough investigations and a commitment to honesty quite like openness.