Perry chief in limbo

Jan 19 2011 - 12:18pm

PERRY -- Police Chief Mike Jones' continued employment with the city depends on the outcome of charges against him in Harrisville and a report by Utah Police Officers Standards and Training, Mayor Jerry Nelson said Tuesday.

A pretrial conference has been scheduled for March 2 for Jones, who was charged last month with disorderly conduct and failure to identify himself as a police officer.

In the meantime, Nelson said he had no choice but to place Jones on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of his court case. Jones has been on paid leave from the city since shortly after the Dec. 12 incident.

"I can't keep him on paid administrative leave -- the city doesn't have the money," Nelson said, "so I have to make a decision on a man's life."

Harrisville police say Jones became belligerent and verbally abusive with Walmart employees when he was asked to show his receipt for items purchased in their store.

In an argument in the store parking lot, police reports say, Jones told store employees he was a police officer but would not give his name or show his official identification until a Harrisville officer told Jones he could be could arrested for impersonating a police officer.

To avoid a potential conflict of interest, Nelson asked the Weber County Sheriff's Office to conduct an investigation into the allegations against Jones.

That investigation was concluded last week; however, Perry City Attorney Duncan Murray said, according to state law, the results are classified and he is prohibited from releasing that report.

The law says "records created or maintained for civil, criminal or administrative enforcement purposes" can be classified if they reasonably could "interfere with an investigation, disciplinary proceedings or will deprive a person of his right to a fair trial."

While full details are not available, Nelson said he was disturbed by what he read. But still, he said placing Jones on leave was best for him and for the public.

"He went too far, there is no doubt about it," Nelson said. "He is going to have to be disciplined, no matter what."

POST also has initiated an investigation into Jones' actions that day. Nelson said it will be about 45 days before POST completes its investigation and the city can't afford to keep Jones on the payroll that long.

At the conclusion of Jones' court proceedings and the completion of its investigation, POST could choose to suspend or revoke Jones' police officer certification.

If either of those happen, Jones would be ineligible to serve as a Perry officer, according to the POST website.

From Around the Web