SANDY — The former commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety can never be a police officer in the state again.
Scott T. Duncan was one of seven Utah law enforcement officers sanctioned Wednesday by the Utah Police Officer Standards and Training Council during its quarterly meeting. He was one of five to have their certification revoked for life.
"Any time we have to deal with police officer misconduct, it becomes difficult," said Capt. Kelly Sparks, deputy director of POST, when asked about Duncan's case.
"Certainly, the more senior a person is, the more experienced the person is, the more serious the misconduct issues are," Sparks said, "and perhaps the more repercussions there are because of the notoriety."
Duncan pleaded guilty in 4th District Court on Nov. 9 to two counts of falsely obtaining a prescription, a third-degree felony, and one count of filing a fraudulent insurance claim, a class B misdemeanor. He was ordered to serve three years on probation as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. The charges will be dismissed if he does not violate probation.
In January, Duncan was stopped twice for swerving on a road in southern Utah. He first told a deputy he was distracted by an audio book and was let go. Later, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped Duncan again, noticed something was wrong and took him to a Cedar City hospital to be examined.
Duncan resigned soon after, effectively ending his 32-year law enforcement career. Prosecutors said he later approached authorities, said he had a drug problem and admitted that he'd gone to multiple doctors in Utah County to obtain prescriptions for hydrocodone.
The six other officers disciplined Wednesday were:
Anna L. Barney: Investigators said Barney, a former Utah County sheriff's deputy, had sex with a Utah County Jail inmate in September 2008. Barney had been a deputy for more than 11 years when she resigned in February. She agreed to a revocation of her certification.
Travis Harvey: A former Utah Department of Corrections officer, Harvey fondled a female officer without her consent while on duty, investigators said, and also lied when interviewed about it. Harvey, a corrections officer for little more than a year when he was fired in October, agreed to have his certification revoked.
Evan W. Schipaanboord: The former corrections officer was arrested in July by Farmington police for investigation of DUI, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and open container. He pleaded guilty to the DUI charge and the remaining counts were dismissed, investigators said. Schipaanboord was an officer for more than eight years when he resigned in August. He agreed to have his certification revoked.
Darren E. Watson: Watson engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with a woman while on duty, investigators said. The relationship occurred on and off duty over a period of two years. Watson also allegedly lied about the relationship during an internal affairs investigation. He had been a West Valley police officer for nine years when he was fired in December 2008. He agreed to have his certification revoked.
Hilary Mills: The former Syracuse police officer was arrested for investigation of DUI in July after Davis County sheriff's deputies said she was found passed out in her car in the parking lot of a golf course. A blood test revealed that Mills had Xanax and codeine in her system, investigators said, and a DUI charge is pending. Mills told investigators she had mistakenly taken too much prescription medication. Mills had been a Syracuse police officer for almost four years when she resigned. She agreed to have her certification suspended for two years.
Travis William Turner: The former Lone Peak police sergeant, during a drunken phone call to his ex-wife, threatened to kill Lehi Police Chief Chad Smith, investigators said. The woman took a recording of the call to Lehi police. She was also granted a protective order against Turner and alleged that he violated it. Turner had been a police officer with Lone Peak since 1998 and worked as a reserve police officer for Lehi police. He was fired by Lone Peak police in December 2008 and agreed to have his certification suspended for one year.
Sparks said POST investigators opened 98 cases in 2009 to probe allegations of misconduct by Utah police and corrections officers. That number was well below the record 124 investigations conducted by the agency in 2008.
"We hope that that's a trend," he said.
Sparks said POST, which administers all academy and in-service training in Utah, continues to emphasize to cadets and officers the professional consequences of violating the law or the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. Publicity about the discipline meted out by the POST Council is also used to drive the point home that "action will be taken if they engage in police misconduct," he said.
"Any is one too many," Sparks said. "We would like to eliminate police misconduct altogether."
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