13 Utah peace officers disciplined for lying, drunken driving, assault and more

(Photo courtesy of the Utah County Sheriff's Office) Days after his retirement from Saratoga Spring police, Rosen was arrested on suspicion of unlawful sexual contact with a 16- or 17-year-old.

Sandy • Jared Palmer credits his job as a jailer at the Grand County Sheriff’s Office to the years he spent abusing opioids.

“From my addiction,” Palmer said, “that’s what drove me into law enforcement, especially corrections, because I’d been down that road.”

But Palmer didn’t disclose that addiction when he applied to work in law enforcement in 2013 and, for that, Palmer on Wednesday had his peace officer certification suspended for two years.

He was one of 13 former or current officers disciplined by the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council at its quarterly meeting.

According to a presentation to the council, Palmer illegally obtained and took opioids from 2006 through 2010. The application Palmer completed in 2013 required him to disclose all the drugs he had used illicitly and any crimes he had committed — even the ones for which he was never caught.

Palmer acknowledged trying marijuana and “crank,” slang for methamphetamine, but he did not write anything about unlawful opioid use. He later went to work as a corrections officer for Grand County and has been employed there 5½ years.

Palmer submitted a new application — this time disclosing the opioid use — to get ongoing training, and staff reviewing the application noticed the discrepancy.

On Wednesday, Palmer said that in 2013 he looked for the word “hydrocodone” on the list of potentially illicit substances he had to disclose the use of and never saw it. Hydrocodone is a form of opioid.

“I did falsify a document,” Palmer told the council, “but I did not do it willfully. I did not do it to deceive anybody.”

Palmer said he has been on paid administrative leave from Grand County since March, and the sheriff there is holding Palmer’s job for him in the hopes the council would let him return.

Under questioning from Woods Cross Police Chief Chad Soffe, one of the council members, Palmer acknowledged he illegally bought the medications from a friend and that constituted a crime that should have been disclosed. The council then voted unanimously to issue the two-year suspension recommended by investigators.

Investigators recommended an 18-month suspension for Justin L. Jones, 31, but the council instead voted to suspend Jones for 2½ years. That’s because Wednesday was the second time Jones came before the council after being found to have driven under the influence.

The council suspended Jones for a year in 2017 for a drunken driving arrest while working for South Salt Lake police. In the latest episode, according to a presentation to the council, Jones was working for University of Utah police when, on July 28 of this year, the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jones on suspicion of driving drunk.

The council was told that in one test Jones had a blood alcohol level of 0.089. A subsequent test measured Jones at 0.073. Both are over Utah’s lowest-in-the-nation legal limit of 0.05. A misdemeanor case against Jones is pending in Tooele County’s justice court.

The council also revoked the police powers of Aaron Rosen, who had retired from Saratoga Spring police when he was arrested in 2017 but still had law enforcement certification. Days after his retirement, Rosen was arrested on suspicion of unlawful sexual contact with a 16- or 17-year-old. A Utah County jury convicted Rosen earlier this year of one felony and one misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.

Other officers disciplined Wednesday:

• Carbon County Sheriff’s Office — Richard Vail, revoked for driving under the influence, failure to stop at the command of law enforcement, carrying a weapon under the influence and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

• Davis County Sheriff’s Office — Wyatt Shapiro, three-year suspension for child abuse, intoxication and disorderly conduct.

• Tooele City police — Coleton Roseborough, revocation for lying.

• Tooele County Sheriff’s Office — Austin Van Ekelenburg, revocation for use of steroids and lying.

• Unemployed but who still had law enforcement certification: Zan Elliott, two-year suspension for domestic violence, intoxication and disorderly conduct; Troy Nay, two-year suspension for falsifying an application; Hollman Pena, revocation for falsifying an application and lying; Jose Suarez, revocation for failing to stop at command of law enforcement, drunken driving, resisting arrest, property damage; Michael Straub, two-year suspension for assault; Shane Visser, revocation for violation of a protective order and possession of a firearms by a restricted person.

At the start of 2020, a new rule takes effect clarifying that Utah peace officers cannot “sext,” the act of sending or receiving nude pictures, while on duty. Maj. Scott Stephenson, who oversees the state’s police academy and misconduct investigations, told council members they could start to see discipline cases arising from the rule as early as their March meeting.

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