OUR VIEW: A lesson learned

Jun 24 2011 - 7:30pm

Here's a warning to police officers working on a stakeout or standoff when there are no working toilets available.

Don't leave bottles of your urine behind.

You never know who might get a hold of this bodily fluid, and say, have it tested just to see what's in it.

It is a shame that in the aftermath of last weekend's 16-hour standoff with Jason Valdez, that the Ogden Police Department would have to deal with an embarrassing public relations episode because of the condition officers left one of the rooms at the Western Colony Inn.

It is understandable that the room Valdez was holding Veronica Jensen hostage, would suffer extensive damage. But the amount of damage to the room next door, where Jack and Lauri Fowers resided, is disappointing, to say the least. Police say the damage was unavoidable.

The couple report debris was strewn about their room and food from their refrigerator scattered on the floor. There were also holes in the walls and black gunk on the ceiling. They also found two water bottles containing urine in the bathroom.

SWAT teams had evacuated the Fowers and occupied their room after Valdez had barricaded himself in the adjacent room with the hostage. Water and electricity were turned off to both rooms during the negotiations, so the toilets wouldn't work.

Motel owner Shawn Soltani estimates damage to both rooms could be as high as $10,000. He doesn't know who will pay for repairs.

On the surface, it appears the OPD did a good job of handling the hostage situation. Officers didn't rush in when initially responding to the situation. They gave the suspect plenty of time and opportunity to surrender. And when they did decide to end the stalemate, neither the hostage nor any officers were hurt in the process. Valdez did shoot himself during the confrontation after firing at officers.

Valdez faces attempted murder charges for firing at officers. He is in stable but critical condition with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, police say.

It's unfortunate that what was left behind has left a stain on what was generally a solid police operation overall.

Still, kudos to Assistant Police Chief Randy Watt for admitting that leaving the urine bottles was an embarrassing oversight.

"We should have taken that stuff with us. Lesson learned. That's egg on our face."

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