SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- Cottonwood Heights Police and the Salt Lake County Jail are at odds over what led to jail staff turning away a man wanted for sex abuse of a child when he attempted to turn himself in this week.
Police said a judge signed off on a first-degree felony warrant for $100,000 for 18-year-old Joshua Meyer Tuesday afternoon, and a detective arranged for him to turn himself in at the jail.
According to court documents, Meyer faces a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a child after he engaged in sexual activity with a 9-year-old girl.
The documents allege the abuse spanned a two-year period, and continued until October of 2016.
The judge signed that warrant, and Chief Deputy Justin Hoyal with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office said Meyer arrived at the jail an hour and a half later.
But, an officer turned Meyer away.
“This seems a little bit irresponsible, and creates a safety concern,” said Sergeant Ryan Shosted with Cottonwood Heights Police.
Sgt. Shosted said, from his understanding, part of the problem came down to an ID issue.
“The suspect, from I was told, was told that he needed a state ID,” he said. And, he added, the warrant wasn’t yet posted in the computer database system.
While Chief Deputy Hoyal agrees the warrant wasn’t in the system, he said Meyer’s lack of owning an ID had nothing to do with it.
He said the officer couldn’t find the warrant, and then recommended when Meyer was leaving that he get a state-issued ID, because he is 18 years old.
“Obviously we’re not going to book somebody if they don't have a warrant for their arrest,” Hoyal said.
He said it could be a liability issue for the jail to book Meyer without proof of the warrant. He said the officer acted correctly in the situation, and the reason the warrant wasn’t in the computer system came down to a time-lapse issue.
“Once those warrants go to clerks, it takes time to get that inputted into the computer,” he explained.
Hoyal also said Cottonwood Heights could have arrested Meyer instead.
“The detectives involved could have arrested him and brought him down, and booked him on probable cause,” Hoyal said.
Sgt. Shosted asserted the situation points to a bigger issue with the county jail.
“I think there's a lot of policy changes with the jail that could probably be corrected,” he said.
The warrant/computer issue meant Meyer spent one more day outside of jail.
Hoyal said the next day when Meyer, again, turned himself in—they found the warrant in the system and booked him on his charge.