Beau Babka is no longer the undersheriff of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.
But whether Babka resigned on his own or was pushed out the door was a source of contention Wednesday.
The sheriff's office issued a press release Wednesday morning that said as of 5 p.m. Tuesday "Beau Babka was officially released from his appointed position as undersheriff in the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office."
Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak said Babka resigned and was then released from his duties.
"We are grateful for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors," he said.
But a source familiar with the situation who wished to remain anonymous told the Deseret News that when the press release was issued, Babka had not resigned. The source said there had been a lot of tension between Babka and Winder ever since Babka applied for the Orange County, Calif., sheriff's position earlier this year. Babka was one of the nine finalists but did not get the job.
In May, while Babka was interviewing for the California job, Winder told the News that there would "likely" be a new undersheriff in his office.
Babka was forced into resigning Wednesday, according to the source.
Jaroscak said Wednesday it was absolutely false that Winder announced during a staff meeting that morning that Babka had been fired. Whether or not Babka had resigned before the announcement of his release was made or whether he was pressured into resigning, were topics Jaroscak said he could not comment.
Neither Babka nor Winder were available for comment Wednesday. Several sources say as part of the agreement for his departure, Babka is under a gag order. Jaroscak said Winder is on a previously planned vacation out of state.
Babka's attorney, Tracy Cowdell, said he also could not confirm whether his client was fired or resigned.
"I have absolutely no idea, none whatsoever, if there was a falling out between the sheriff and Mr. Babka. I'm not privy to that information," he said. "I really do not know what happened."
When asked why Babka's calls were being referred to his attorney if he simply resigned, Cowdell said that information was attorney-client privilege and he could not discuss why he was retained.
Likewise, when asked if Babka was planning to take any legal action, Cowdell said he couldn't comment. He did say, however, that Babka was in the process of looking for a new job but did not have prospects in the works.
"Beau is a very good human being and police officer. He knows this business well. This is a stressful time for him and his family," Cowdell said of the father of six.
Babka's law enforcement career in Utah began in 1992 when he became a patrol officer for the South Salt Lake Police Department. He quickly rose through the ranks and became the department's chief in 2006. By the end of that year, however, he accepted an invitation to be Winder's undersheriff.
Babka ran an unsuccessful bid for sheriff in 2002 and for Congress in 2004.
"It's unfortunate to see this because I think Beau was underutilized and could have done a lot of great things for Salt Lake County law enforcement," said South Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Snyder, who was assistant chief under Babka.Jaroscak said a search will begin immediately for a new undersheriff.
E-mail: [email protected]