Cottonwood Heights at center of hearing on police abuse of power

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Statewide allegations of police abusing their power was the subject of a senate committee hearing Wednesday, but all the focus seemed to be on the small community of Cottonwood Heights.

After hours of testimony from various police agencies, Senator Todd Weiler invited Steve Unger to share his experience at the very end of the hearing. Unger described his August encounter with Cottonwood Heights police in detail, when he was detained and charged after dancing on the sidewalk. The charges against him were just dropped last week.

“The charges were dropped in a press release that I found very condescending, extremely insensitive, and very dismissive: Exactly the way I was treated on the street,” Unger said.

Unger was the only one allowed to speak, but he wasn’t the only person in the room who had complaints about Cottonwood Heights Police.

Lani Roberts, who owns a 7-Eleven franchise in Cottonwood Heights, says harassment by Cottonwood Heights police has caused her business to suffer so much in the past few years that she’s had to lay off five employees.

“What the police officers have done to us, to the community, and just pretty much anybody that drives through the city, they need to be looked at," Roberts said. "They need to be looked at."

As city manager, John Park says it’s frustrating that Cottonwood Heights is being singled out in this way.

“It’s very frustrating that we’re zeroing in on a couple perhaps mistakes in the Unger case and listening to these allegations over and over again that we believe have no merit,” Park said.

Park admits that Cottonwood Heights police could’ve acted differently in the case with Steve Unger, but when it comes to the complaints on the business owners, Park says there is no truth to the claims that they’ve been specifically targeted by Cottonwood Heights police.

14 comments

  • Finny Wiggen

    It is astonishing that cottonwood heights still does not get it! They continue to speak arrogantly and defend themselves, rather than just apologize. This would have all gone away, if they had just humbly apologized.

    You were totally and absolutely our of line. There are no two ways about it. Citizens are not required to bow before your glory. Nor are we required to show you id, unless you actually have probable cause.

    You continue to act as though you know the law better than us, or perhaps are above it.

    I support police. I respect your profession. Your role is critical. However, you severely damage your position and the public’s view of you, when you behave so inappropriately and then defend your actions so pridefully.

    Admit your wrong. Retrain your officers. You will be amazed at how quickly you regain public support, when you behave professionally!!

    • Billy ray

      Most cops are not in their profession to help people, but to merely stroke their own ego. They were bullies growing up and continue to be bullies now.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        Do you really want people with a bible school mentality responding to your 911 call when some puke is holding a knive to your boyfriend’s throat?

      • bob

        The cops will show up after the fact to draw chalk outlines around the body. If you think they will, or CAN protect you then you’re a fool. Criminals do not call the cops ahead of time to schedule their crimes.

      • QC1313

        Anotherbob and hyrum_justice sure like to twist your words. I didn’t get that impression at all. Coming from an extended family of police officers, one very high ranking officer once told me a pre-requisite for becoming a policeman is a massive ego. I don’t necessarily agree with that broad statement because we do have some good policemen here in CH but the bad ones are making all of them look bad.
        Aside from that, John Park …. You are wrong. You need to go. I’m certainly going to put my phone to use AND my vote.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        @QC1313
        When people call 911 for help when a drunken animal is assaulting them they expect a police officer with the ability to take care of the problem. Good folks with a school teacher mentality just don’t have what it takes to deal with an enraged animal. I think Billy Ray and QC1313 are smart enough to understand the concept.

    • t

      This is why you should vote the people out of office in Cottonwood Heights. If you don’t like how the city is being managed, get rid of elected officials.

    • Corey Smaller

      I alsolutely agree!! Ignoring the fine citizens in CH when they m ake complaint after complaint about them (including me, several ridiculous run ins that almost cost me my career). I like this line ““It’s very frustrating that we’re zeroing in on a couple perhaps mistakes in the Unger case and listening to these allegations over and over again that we believe have no merit,” Park said.” yeah, instead of trying to poke holes in everybody’s stories how about investigating this Good Ol Boy network controlled by ex politicians looking for that land grab over by BCC. This would be Dukes Of Hazzard worthy of ridiculous story lines if it didnt affect everyone who lives there or who drives through there to ski or work. I just sold my house after 8 years in CH. no thanks !

  • wd4o

    I have heard SO MANY negative experiences from friends and relatives that live in Cottonwood Heights! Google “Cottonwood Heights” and the first thing that comes up is “Police Corruption”.
    I grew up in Cottonwood Heights and love that area, but I’m glad I don’t live there now!

  • HYRUM_JUSTICE

    In his comment above Billy Ray is like most liberals. He seems to think that police officers should all be like his mommy. Ready to pat the puke on the back and offer tender loving counsel.

  • Raymond Winn

    This whole mess is so disappointing. It is obvious to any disinterested observer that the City is out of whack in its policing policy. And a note to John Park: It is against the 10 commandments to tell a lie (” . . there is no truth to the claims that they have been specifically targeted by CH police”).

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