SANDY, Utah -- The group that certifies and disciplines all police officers in the state has temporarily suspended the badge of a former Draper officer over an unusual incident involving vehicle tailpipe emissions.
"This was a mistake and I ultimately have paid with my career," Michael Street told the Utah Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) Council on Thursday.
Street was a sergeant with the Draper Police Department until last year, when he resigned over the issue. POST attorney Linda Viti told the council Street purchased a truck that wouldn't pass emissions testing in Salt Lake County, so he used the address of a fellow officer who lived in Utah County when he registered it to avoid complying with the emissions testing requirement.
"Utah County does not require emission testing on diesel vehicles," she said.
Street told the POST Council he was strapped for cash after putting a down payment on a home and faced $3,000 to $5,000 in repair work to fix the truck.
"I asked if I could temporarily use his address until I could come up with some money to replace that exhaust. This really does boil down into a dollar amount," he said.
When Draper's police chief found out, a criminal investigation was initiated.
"I asked if he was actually joking when he explained the severity of what I’d done. I never imagined I would put my career in jeopardy over a registration or any violation of the law," Street said.
The offense of falsifying a record is technically a felony, Street's lawyer said. He ultimately struck a plea in abeyance to a class A misdemeanor, which means that after a year of no further violations the case is dismissed. Street also resigned from the police department.
"There’s no dispute the statute here makes it a felony. I think there is a philosophical debate over whether false evidence makes it a felony," Street's attorney, Jeremy Jones, told the POST Council.
Street faced revocation of his badge because of the severity of the original offense, but POST's internal investigators recommended a three year suspension. (Anything over two years is considered career-ending.) Jones asked for significantly less punishment and Draper's police chief even wrote a letter praising Street for his work as a police officer, saying he was widely respected.
"What I’m asking from the council is a second chance to get back to a life as a police officer," he said.
Some council members appeared stunned at the nature of the offense and the fact it was a felony.
"We are so far over the top on this!" fumed Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel. "For this man... it’s actually embarrassing to me that we’ve got a police officer that’s as good of a man as this man is, that’s over this kind of violation. This is craziness!"
Attorney Victoria McFarland, another POST Council member, noted Street did admit to misconduct with the plea he took.
"We’re not talking about assault. We’re not talking about… I don’t know," said Sandy Police Sgt. Christie Moren.
St. George Police Chief Marlon Stratton said Street has been out of law enforcement for 17 months and offered to give him another month's suspension and call it good.
"I personally think he deserves a second chance," he said.
The council voted for it.
Street was among 16 officers disciplined in the last quarter by POST. Others include:
- Former Utah Corrections Officer Dennis Anderson, who was given a 2-year suspension for a drunk driving incident where he hit a fence.
- Former Utah Corrections Officer Chad Brooks, who was given a 2 1/2-year suspension for a drunk driving incident and was still facing an outstanding warrant.
- Former Harrisville police officer Kyle Christensen, who was given a 2 1/2-year suspension for DUI in a marked patrol vehicle.
- A letter of caution was issued to West Jordan police officer Matthew Gregersen for mistakingly shooting a moose while on an elk hunting trip last year. POST said he cooperated fully with investigators.
- An 18-month suspension was given to Utah Dept. of Corrections Officer Brandon Heffron for an assault that took place during a training exercise.
- A 2-year suspension was given to former Woods Cross police officer Jennifer Hicks for assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child.
- A 2-year suspension was given to Kyle Kent for not disclosing prior criminal history in background checks while seeking employment as a police officer, POST said.
- POST handed down a 1-year suspension to retired Utah Dept. of Natural Resources officer Mitchell Lane for an impaired driving incident.
- Former Lehi police officer Jared Martinsen received a 1-year suspension after POST said he signed on duty while remaining at home and claimed on his time card he was working.
- Retired Unified police officer Daniel McConkey was given a 3-year suspension for an incident POST said involved calling 911 to make a false report of a burglary in order to prevent his wife from engaging in an extramarital affair.
- Former Salt Lake County Sheriff's Officer Rodney Purvis was given a 1 1/2-year suspension for trespassing.
- Utah Department of Corrections officer Cary Rosquist was given a 3-month suspension for falsification of a government record.
- James Terrill, a former Granite School District officer, was given a 1-year suspension after POST said he filed time cards indicating he had signed on duty when he was at home. Terrill told the POST Council it was a misunderstanding.
- Former Cache County Sheriff's deputy Jason Whittier was given a 1-year suspension for a high-profile incident in July where his K-9 officer, Endy, died in a hot patrol car. Whittier pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.
- Former Utah Attorney General's investigator Anthony Williams had his badge revoked after for reckless endangerment. POST said it stemmed from an incident where he pointed an unloaded gun at himself. His attorney, Lindsay Jarvis, argued he was suicidal and intoxicated and has since been getting treatment. Williams asked for a second chance, but the council rejected it.