Stockton Police Chief Heinz Kopp is keeping his distance from what has become a pretty big dustup in this tiny Tooele County town.
"It wasn't my decision to suspend [Officer Josh Rowell]," the chief said Monday. "That was the mayor's doing. I was left out of the loop on that one."
The chief was referring to the fallout after Rowell cited Mayor Dan Rydalch's son for driving without a license.
The mayor could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
The City Council has scheduled a special Thursday evening session to discuss the matter, which has caused some of the town's estimated 600 residents to contact council members with questions.
Rowell said Tuesday night he was parked by the side of the road and was motioning vehicles over to check for license, registration and DUI when he realized a white car appeared to be evading the checkpoint on residential streets. He followed the sedan and pulled it over.
The driver, Jared Rydalch, 29, could not produce a driver's license. Rowell cited him and told him he would pull him over again if he spotted him driving that night.
About 20 minutes later, Rowell found the police chief in the mayor's pickup.
"You could tell just the way the mayor's hands were flying, the mayor was upset," Rowell said.
When the officer approached the pair, Rowell said the mayor fired him.
"Are you the one that gave my son a ticket?" Rowell recalled of the conversation. "I want your badge tomorrow morning."
The chief later informed his officer that the mayor, rather than firing Rowell, decided instead to suspend him without pay.
The mayor had reportedly complained that the officer had acted rudely, Rowell said.
"That's not true," Rowell said. "I'm confident I acted professional."
Councilman Kendall Thomas characterized the suspension as "totally unfair."
"What we've got is a good officer who was trying to his job and the mayor overreacting," Thomas said.
The mayor had not communicated to the council why he suspended Rowell. That's among the reasons the meeting was scheduled, said Councilman Mark Whitney.
"We're trying to find out what happened," Whitney said. "We've had several citizens ask us about this. Some are upset about it."
Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle contributed to this story.