SALT LAKE CITY — The two Salt Lake police officers at the center of the controversial arrest of University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels have been previously disciplined.
Detective Jeff Payne has been disciplined twice during his 27-year career, with one of those incidents resulting in suspension without pay for two weeks, according to documents obtained through a public records request.
Lt. James Tracy, who has 22 years of experience, was also disciplined once, 20 years ago.
In 2013, Payne was given a letter of reprimand by then-Chief Chris Burbank for harassing a female employee "over an extended period of time," according to an Internal Affairs report.
"Your harassing behavior was severe and persistent and created a hostile, intimidating working environment for this employee, significantly interfering with her ability to work," Burbank's official written reprimand states.
The letter further notes that Payne "made unwanted physical contact with her on multiple occasions" and then used the police department email account to send her a "disparaging" message that was "profane in its content."
Payne was found to have violated the department's communications policy, specifically sending inappropriate materials; the policy on discrimination and sexual harassment; and failing to respect co-workers.
"The sustained conduct demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment on your part," the letter states.
The 2013 letter also noted that "any further sustained findings of misconduct may result in the further imposition of discipline, up to and including termination."
Payne received a more serious discipline in 1995 when he was suspended without pay for 80 hours, according to another letter written by then-Assistant Police Chief Larry Stott.
On June 18, 1995, Payne was involved in a chase along with the Utah Highway Patrol that ended at 3740 S. 510 West. Details of the incident were not included in the letter.
He was found to be in violation of the police department's code of ethics, being courteous toward other agencies, violating the department's chase policy, violating the department's report filing policy and violating the "unit status" policy, which is defined as keeping emergency dispatchers advised of where an officer is at.
An officer can violate the chase policy by either pursuing someone wanted for a misdemeanor offense, for continuing a chase that has been called off, or for not turning on lights and sirens and notifying dispatchers when a chase beings, according to the letter.
"Jeff, I am disappointed in your behavior on this incident, as I believe you are," Stott wrote. "I don't believe this is indicative of the kind of work you do or the standard you hold yourself to."
But Payne also has had several commendation and awards during his career. A records request resulted in 28 letters of commendation and appreciation for him from Salt Lake police and other agencies in which he gave presentations on methamphetamine labs.
In 1990, a letter to Payne noted that a citizen expressed her appreciation "for the professional and kind manner in which you handled a situation." Another letter that same year commended Payne for his "excellent job" in a case that resulted in the arrests of two robbery suspects.
Another letter in 1990 talked about Payne's work on a fatal traffic accident. "He was thinking beyond his experience and saved us a lot of work," the letter states.
Another letter in 1994 commends Payne on his "sensitivity and professionalism." A 2006 letter from Burbank recognized his "outstanding" efforts in helping with security during President George W. Bush's visit to Salt Lake City.
In 1998, Payne was honored with the Purple Heart award from the Utah Peace Officers Association. In 1997, he was also working as a Davis County reserve officer when he was shot in the shoulder during a traffic stop in Layton. His badge helped protect Payne from a more serious injury. The bullet hit the top point of the metal star and ricocheted off and upward, grazing his shoulder.
Tracy's disciplinary action occurred in 1997 for conduct unbecoming of an officer and not properly filling out a report, according to a letter of reprimand written by then-Capt. Roger Winkler.
According to an internal affairs investigation, Tracy took two handcuffed people from 400 W. 200 South, to north Beck Street, "and released them without documenting the incident by police report," the letter states.
A records request for Tracy's letters of commendation was still in the process of being fulfilled Monday.
Both Payne and Tracy are currently on paid administrative leave for their latest alleged department policy violations.
Last week, two investigations — one conducted by the Salt Lake City Police Department's Internal Affairs, the other by the independent Civilian Review Board — found both men violated multiple department policies on July 26 when Payne was sent to University Hospital to collect blood from a man injured in a fatal crash. Wubbels — citing policy agreed upon by the hospital and the police department — declined to tell Payne where the patient was or allow him to draw blood.
After about 90 minutes of negotiating, according to a police report, an impatient Payne is seen in the video telling Wubbels, the charge nurse, that she is under arrest for interfering with a police investigation. He grabbed the screaming nurse, dragged her out of the emergency room and pushed her against a wall while handcuffing her.
Tracy was the watch commander or supervisor on duty that day and allegedly ordered Payne to arrest Wubbels.
The Internal Affairs report for Payne found that his conduct toward Wubbels "was inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, disrespectful, and has brought significant disrepute on both you as a police officer and on the department as a whole. You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgment (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience), which calls into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the department in a manner that inspires the requisite trust, respect and confidence."
Payne was recently fired from his part-time job at Gold Cross Ambulance for commenting during the same incident with Wubbels that he would bring transients to University Hospital and take the "good" patients elsewhere.
The letter sent to Tracy from Internal Affairs states that his "impulsive decision" to have Payne arrest Wubbels without knowing all the facts, "has adversely affected public respect and confidence in the department."20 comments on this story
Wubbels told investigators that she "perceived (Tracy) to be the catalyst in this incident because (he) enabled detective Payne to arrest her. Finally, Ms. Wubbles believes (Tracy) is ultimately responsible for this incident," the letter states.
Tracy was found to be "discourteous" when dealing with not only Wubbels, but also hospital administrators who talked to him on his cellphone, according to the letter. Furthermore, his decision to arrest Wubbels "runs contrary to the department's well-established policy of issuing citations for misdemeanors," the letter states.
Both men were given 20 days from the day the reports were issued to respond. After that, Chief Mike Brown will decide what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken.