North Logan • A northern Utah police department is reviewing its policies after an officer was accused of showing favoritism to a police chief’s wife after issuing her a speeding ticket in October.
North Park Police Chief Kim Hawkes said the officer prevented the citation from being transmitted by computer to a state system that records traffic violations after learning he had issued the ticket to Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen’s wife.
Hawkes last week questioned Officer Lance Wilkinson about his action after a citizen complaint was brought to his attention.
After stopping the woman for going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone, Wilkinson wrote her a ticket. At some point, he asked the woman if she was married to Jensen — and she said she was. After returning to his patrol car, Wilkinson deleted the citation so it could not be transmitted to the state system.
Hawkes said Wilkinson told him he changed his mind because he has a "soft spot" for both the elderly and others in law enforcement.
"I want to make sure we are all on the same page — this page," Hawkes said, referring to the department’s policy regarding traffic citations.
Under it, an officer doesn’t have the authority to dismiss a citation after it has been issued.
Hawkes said even though Wilkinson had not yet saved the data in his computer, the woman had been formally issued a citation, which she signed. If an officer has a change of heart, the policy states the officer must go to his sergeant or to the chief to request a dismissal.
Wilkinson later called Jensen and notified him the paper citation could be ripped up and disregarded. Jensen told The Herald Journal he urged the officer to let the citation stand, telling him, "Do not dismiss or reduce or [do] anything to that ticket."
"If she was speeding, like any other person, we’ll manage the citation, it’s fine," Jensen said. "Basically, I wanted to put the officer at ease, suggesting to him that I don’t know what his worries are. I mean, the fact that he has pulled over my wife and he feels like he shouldn’t give her a citation, it’s silly. We get tickets like anyone else does."
Information from: The Herald Journal, http://www.hjnews.com
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