U officer fired for DUI

By By Ana Breton and By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

A former officer at the U Police Department had his peace officer certification suspended for the next three years after he was arrested for drunken driving.

Officer Tory Park’s certification was suspended by the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, which establishes and upholds rules of conduct for the state’s certified peace officers. Officers are given the certification after they graduate from a police academy and keep their accreditation by completing 40 hours of training in their department and follow POST council standards.

The council suspended Park’s certification during its quarterly conference during the weekend. There, the council suspended the certifications of 29 other officers in Utah. Park was the only officer punished from a university police department in the state.

Lt. Steve Winward, POST bureau chief of investigations said Park’s certification was suspended after the council found that he had been arrested for driving under the influence last year. Winward said Park was arrested on May 26 after he crashed his personal vehicle into a road sign when he was off duty. Winward said there was not enough evidence to convict him in court for DUI, but that Park plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving.

“They took the alcohol charges out, because it would have been hard to prove the case to determine if he drank before or during the accident,” Winward said.

Capt. Lynn Mitchell at the U Police Department said that Park was terminated and quickly replaced after he was arrested.

“It’s disheartening. We arrest people who violate laws, so we don’t want our people to be doing those kinds of things, for crying out loud,” Mitchell said. “We arrest people for DUI, but that doesn’t give us permission to do it ourselves.”

Although Mitchell declined to comment about the specific POST case because it involved disciplinary action, he said that Park is not the first officer to have a peace officer certification suspended at the police department.

“It’s not a first,” Mitchell said. “But then again we’ve been here since 1958, so we’ve gone through a lot of officers.”

Mitchell said the last time a U officer’s certification was suspended was about four years ago. Park’s termination “almost went unnoticed,” Mitchell said.

Without certification, an officer is unable to take a position at a police department in the state of Utah. Additionally, Mitchell said that Park will not have a chance to train every year, so if he wants to come back into the field, he will have to pass the entire certification process again.

“Tory was a nice guy. I feel bad for him,” Mitchell said. “But I can’t respect that.”

The 30 Utah officers who were accused of breaking POST ethical rules might be the highest number of officers disciplined in recent history.

Winward said the POST council has been understaffed because several officers have been absent because of personal reasons, such as surgery, and that “cases kept getting backlogged.” The council’s next meeting is in June.

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