Member of POST Council felt sheriff’s nomination was rigged

She alleges Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter ‘set up’ the process to favor Sheriff Jared Rigby.

(Fox 13) One member of the POST Council tasked with choosing a new director felt the process was rigged in favor of Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby.

For the past several weeks, FOX 13 News has been asking how Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby was nominated for a powerful state position without answering questions about a “bullying” and “intimidation” complaint filed against him by a police officer.

As the state-appointed director of Utah POST, or Peace Officer Standards and Training, Rigby would have overseen the training and investigation of approximately 9,000 officers, deputies, and troopers across Utah.

Less than 48 hours prior to his swearing-in ceremony, Rigby’s appointment was suddenly postponed and has not been rescheduled.

Maile Loo is a member of POST Council, the board tasked with the POST Director nomination process.

According to documents obtained by FOX 13 News, she felt the process was rigged in Rigby’s favor.

“I want it on record that I felt the entire process and recommendation of (Rigby) was a set up from the get go,” Loo wrote. “For me, it is all about the principle of the process.”

Loo said she didn’t know anything about the witness intimidation complaint against Rigby until months after writing her letter on October 19, 2022.

She was the only member of POST Council to vote against nominating Rigby in October.

Three other members of POST Council wanted to recommend more than one candidate for consideration, but records show they were outnumbered by a vote of 6-4.

“My experience of 35 years in Public Education and the hiring/review process is deep,” Loo wrote. “This is the second time in my career that I have felt this and am taking the same action of letting my voice be heard.”

Loo’s letter specifically named Chief Wade Carpenter of the Park City Police Department, who also serves as the chairman of POST Council.

“It was very obvious to me from the get go that (Chief Wade Carpenter) and the 5 members on the interview panel knew prior who they wanted and it was all a staged process,” she wrote. “I truly felt that (Deputy Director Alex Garcia) and candidate #3 did not have a shot with the majority of the POST members, which is why I wanted to push candidates 1, 2, and 3 up to allow (Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson) to pick.”

Carpenter told FOX 13 News he had seen “clips” of the video prior to Rigby’s interview and selection process but not the full 93 minutes.

He stated he thought it would not be “appropriate” to mention the video during the POST Director interview process because he felt it was DPS’ responsibility to conduct a background check on candidates prior to the interviews.

“Just because somebody makes a complaint against someone doesn’t mean it’s legitimate,” Carpenter said. “Our role is not investigative. Even though some of us have that ability, that is not our role. That’s not what we’re here for. Our role is to find that best applicant, to protect the integrity of POST, and make sure when we see something wrong we have to call it out. I appreciate the fact that we have dissenting or different views. That’s part of what makes POST Council great.”

Carpenter has attended at least two closed-door meetings with Governor Spencer Cox’s office to lobby on behalf of Rigby.

The latest meeting was on Wednesday morning. Both Carpenter and the Office of the Governor declined to comment on that meeting.

Governor Cox will have the final say on whether the “witness intimidation” video is a dealbreaker for Rigby’s appointment.

A review of the full video shows there are several portions of the interview where Rigby discusses the officer’s potential lack of a future within the Heber City Police Department after he reported Chief Dave Booth for grabbing a handcuffed suspect by the throat.

“We’ve been taught specifically to not grab people by the throat,” the officer said.

“No, I disagree,” Rigby countered. “You’ve been taught to not do a chokehold.”

Several officers within the department accused Rigby of clearing Booth, without conducting any interviews with witnesses until after the fact, because the two are friends and members of the same church.

A review of the video shows Rigby mentioned an active internal affairs (IA) investigation at several points during the interview.

  • Rigby: “We’re doing an internal affairs investigation for the Heber City Police Department.” (2:53)

  • Rigby: “Whether it’s an IA, or you want to call it an administrative review, or whatever it is, it’s the same thing.” (4:05)

  • Rigby: “That’s what we’re doing. We’re doing an IA.” (27:20)

  • Rigby: “I’m not through with the investigation.” (1:07:35)

Upon being presented with the above information, Carpenter stated his comments were based only on information provided to him by Rigby.

FOX 13 News asked Carpenter if he’s concerned about Rigby providing false information to him about the circumstances surrounding the interview.

Carpenter said he would like to see the video first in its entirety before responding.

Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson confirmed Carpenter had knowledge of the video prior to POST Council interviewing and nominating Rigby.

“He was very well aware of the case and what was going on within his neighboring county there and the situation,” Anderson said. “But I was provided one name (for consideration) from POST Council, and I moved forward with that name.”

Sevier County Sheriff Nate Curtis was also a member of the six-person POST Director search committee.

Curtis reiterated on Thursday he is not willing to confirm or deny whether he had seen the video of Rigby prior to the interview and selection process.

“I don’t think it matters,” he said.

POST Councilmember Jeanetta Williams, who also serves as the President of NAACP Salt Lake, said she was disappointed nobody mentioned the video of Rigby until after the selection was made.

“(Carpenter) should have said something,” Williams said. “This position of POST Director is an extremely important position... We’re not saying that (Rigby) is not a good man. We’re just saying there has to be some kind of protocol.”

POST Councilmember Allen Swanson, who also serves as the Chief of Police for the Layton Police Department, said he absolutely would have asked Rigby about the witness intimidation complaint had he known about the video and if he was given permission by POST Council’s legal department.

Loo declined an interview with FOX 13 News.

During a public meeting on Thursday, she told her colleagues they “must be transparent.”

“The information was important and should have been shared,” Loo said. “My guess is a few people knew about the video, but I did not.”

In response to Loo’s letter, Anderson sent the following response on October 24, 2022:

“I appreciate your candor and your willingness to participate in the POST Council. Your years of experience provide great reasoning and respect. I have heard from some of your colleagues that sit with you on the council, and the great respect they have for you and the stance that you took, standing up as the only one who witnessed principle over politics. Your voice will continue to be a powerful source for our law enforcement profession based on the ability to hold officers accountable and ensure proper principles... I look forward to working with you in the future through these challenges.”

Both Rigby and Carpenter declined to comment on the letter.

Two dozen members of the public attended Thursday’s meeting to give public comment.

Rigby sat and watched as friends, family, colleagues, and members of his church defended his character.

“To say that he’s an exceptional man is an understatement,” said Erik Rowland of the Wasatch County Council. “I was genuinely saddened (to hear of Rigby’s appointment) because we were about to lose an exceptional individual.”

“I have a huge bias in favor of Sheriff Jared Rigby. He is my brother in law,” said Neil Mahoney. “I appreciate the value of the media in our world, making sure there is accountability in government decisions... and if there needs to be more process, let it be, but let it be fair.”

Rigby also listened to criticism from those who say he should not have been considered.

“There are major concerning questions about the conduct depicted on this video, and that conduct cannot be ignored,” said Jeremy Jones, representing the Utah Fraternal Order of Police. “This process should be started over, anew, in a transparent fashion.”

“How is the public supposed to trust that POST will fulfill its mission - to promote and strengthen faith and confidence in law enforcement - if it knowingly moves forward with the appointment of a director who is on video intimidating officers for reporting misconduct?” asked Ilana Raskind. “I’d urge you to rescind Sheriff Rigby’s appointment and move forward with a candidate who will truly uphold the principles of integrity, honesty, and trust.”

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.