SANDY The group that certifies and disciplines police officers is making more changes to its guidelines for officers' bad behavior.
During the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council's quarterly meeting on Monday, council members voted to make consensual sexual misconduct on duty and lying to POST or internal affairs investigators offenses that could merit a three-year certification suspension.
That same day, 21 officers were disciplined for various forms of misconduct, ranging from drug use and DUI to sexual misconduct, both on and off duty. Some received suspensions, others had their peace officer certifications revoked.
A few officers challenged the decisions made by POST Council. Ex-Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis asked the council to reconsider a decision to revoke his peace officer certification. The former police chief acknowledged having an affair with a former secretary, and initially lied to POST investigators about it. He did it to protect her privacy, Zamantakis' attorney said.
"I made a mistake and I'm wrong," Zamantakis told the council. "There's a lot of things I wish I'd have done differently."
Zamantakis had the support of his wife, who held his hand as he sat throughout the meeting.
"He is not only a wonderful man, he is a wonderful officer with lots to offer the whole community," she said tearfully. "If I can forgive him, I hope that somewhere you guys can give him a second chance."
The ex-husband of the woman involved in the affair stood and told the POST Council to hold the chief accountable. Ultimately, the council upheld the decision to revoke Zamantakis' certification.
The council also handed down a two-year suspension to Blanding Police Chief Michael Halliday, who was accused of giving POST false information indicating he had reserve officers on his department who weren't actually there. One reserve officer was actually in Iraq, another was living in Arizona.
"There was a total of four officers," said POST investigative Lt. Steve Winward.
Halliday initially sought to challenge the suspension, but decided against it because of health issues, POST attorney Bob Morton told the council.
The council did give a break to Cortney Haggerty, a Salt Lake City police dispatcher who admitted to once using the drug ecstacy at a New Year's Eve party 7 1/2 years ago.
"I made a mistake," he said. "It turns out it was the biggest mistake of my life."
Haggerty admitted the one-time drug use in an application to become a police officer, which sparked the investigation and resulted in his being placed on administrative leave. His application was denied until 2012, and he asked the council to reconsider.
Haggerty had the support of Salt Lake police administration and his union, who noted that he volunteered the information.
"There's probably a lot of people on the police force who have made mistakes," said union attorney April Hollingsworth. "To punish people for coming forward with those mistakes, even if they do violate those policies, what you do is discourage honesty."In the end, the council voted to back-date his suspension from the time of drug use. It will allow him to continue to work toward a career as a police officer.
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