A department-wide audit into all of West Valley City’s criminal cases for the past year turned up "no significant issues," the chief said Tuesday.
The audit did, however, turn up an "administrative technical problem" that was accounting for a "bit of backlog" between when completed investigations were submitted and when they were transferred to the department’s permanent record’s system, said Chief Lee Russo.
The issue did not impact any criminal prosecutions, but the public might have noticed if they requested a report and it wasn’t available immediately, he said.
As a result, Russo said the department has changed the reporting process and placed some of the audit responsibilities onto senior commanders to ensure that cases will be investigated promptly and when closed, they move quickly to the permanent records side.
Meanwhile, Russo said he planned to determine what discipline would be appropriate for a former sex crimes/domestic violence unit detective, who was found to have improperly investigated and closed 10 cases, by the end of next week.
The issues with those sex/domestic violence cases came as a result of an earlier probe into the sex crimes/domestic violence unit. The department launched that probe around Thanksgiving after a person identifying themselves as a West Valley City employee contacted The Salt Lake Tribune alleging a detective in the sex crimes/domestic violence unit had improperly investigated and closed cases.
The probe of that unit found that out of 200 cases, there were issues with 15. Russo then ordered the department-wide probe in December.
Five of the 15 cases had been screened by prosecutors and sent back for follow up, which never happened. The other 10 were listed by the detective as having been screened by prosecutors, but prosecutors had no records of ever seeing those cases.
All detectives who worked in the unit have either since resigned from the department or been transferred to other units.
Russo said an ensuing internal affairs investigation found that while the detective did not intentionally misrepresent cases, there were "sustained allegations."
"He didn’t lie, but there were definitely some items that required further clarification," Russo said, noting that the detective, whose name has not been released, will have a pre-disciplinary hearing in the next few days before Russo determines what, any discipline, is appropriate for the detective.
The investigations wrap up the latest issues the department is tackling. Last year, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office dismissed more than 110 cases linked to the city’s now-defunct Neighborhood Narcotics Unit, which faced its own issues for mishandling evidence, illegally using GPS devices and keeping suspects’ property as trophies.
Russo said the fact that the department-wide probe did not turn up any major issues shows that West Valley City is "a good police department" overall.
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