A member of the POST council believed that the sheriff’s nomination was rigged
For the past few weeks, FOX 13 News has asked how Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby was nominated for a powerful state office without answering questions about a “bullying” and “intimidation” complaint filed against him by a police officer.
As the state-appointed director of Utah POST, or Peace Officer Standards and Training, Rigby would have overseen the training and investigation of approximately 9,000 officers, deputies, and soldiers throughout Utah.
Less than 48 hours before his swearing-in ceremony, Rigby’s appointment was suddenly rescheduled and was not rescheduled.
Maile Loo is a member of the POST Council, the body charged with the nomination process for the POST Director.
According to FOX 13 News documents, she felt the process was being rigged in Rigby’s favour.
“I would like to put on record that I felt the whole process and[Rigby’s]recommendation was prepared from the start,” Loo wrote. “I’m concerned with the principle of the process.”
Loo said she only knew about the witness intimidation lawsuit against Rigby months after writing her October 19, 2022 letter.
She was the only member of the POST Council to vote against Rigby’s nomination in October.
Three other POST Council members wanted to nominate more than one candidate for consideration, but records show they were outnumbered by 6-4 votes.
“My 35 years of experience in public education and the hiring/screening process is profound,” Loo wrote. “This is the second time in my career that I have felt this and am taking the same action to make my voice heard.”
Loo’s letter specifically names Chief Wade Carpenter of the Park City Police Department, who also serves as chairman of the POST Council.
“It was clear to me from the start that[Chief Wade Carpenter]and the five interview panel members knew who they wanted beforehand, and it was all a staged process,” she wrote. “I really felt that (Deputy Director Alex Garcia) and Candidate #3 didn’t stand a chance with the majority of POST members, so I wanted to push Candidates 1, 2, and 3 up (Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson) to choose from.”
Carpenter told FOX 13 News he saw “clips” of the video prior to Rigby’s interview and selection process, but not the full 93 minutes.
He said he didn’t think it was “appropriate” to mention the video during the POST director’s interview, as he felt it was DPS’s responsibility to conduct a background check on candidates before interviews.
“Just because someone files a complaint against someone doesn’t mean it’s legitimate,” Carpenter said. “Our role is not an investigation. Although some of us have this ability, that is not our role. That’s not what we’re here for. Our job is to find the best applicant, protect the integrity of POST and make sure that if we see anything wrong, we have to report it. I appreciate the fact that we have divergent or different views. That’s part of what makes POST Council so great.”
Carpenter has attended at least two closed-door meetings with Gov. Spencer Cox’s office to advocate for Rigby.
The last meeting was on Wednesday morning. Both Carpenter and the governor’s office declined to comment on the meeting.
Governor Cox will have the final say on whether the “witness intimidation” video is a deal breaker for Rigby’s appointment.
A review of the full video reveals that there are several parts of the interview in which Rigby discusses the officer’s potential futurelessness at the Heber City Police Department after he reported Chief Dave Booth for grabbing a handcuffed suspect by the throat would have.
“We were specifically taught not to grab people by the throat,” the officer said.
“No, I disagree,” Rigby replied. “You were taught not to do a choke hold.”
Several officers within the department accused Rigby of evicting Booth without conducting any interviews with witnesses until after the fact because the two are friends and members of the same church.
A review of the video reveals that Rigby mentioned an active investigation into Internal Affairs (IA) at several points during the interview.
Rigby: “We’re conducting an internal investigation for the Heber City Police Department.” (2:53)
Rigby: “Whether it’s an IA or you want to call it an administrative review or whatever it is, it’s the same.” (4:05)
Rigby: We’ll do that. We’re doing an IA.” (27:20)
Rigby: “I’m not done with the exam.” (1:07:35)
When presented with the above information, Carpenter stated that his comments were based solely on information provided to him by Rigby.
FOX 13 News asked Carpenter if he was concerned that Rigby gave him false information about the circumstances of the interview.
Carpenter said he would like to see the video in its entirety before responding.
Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson confirmed that Carpenter was aware of the video before the POST Council interviewed and nominated Rigby.
“He was very aware of the case and what was going on in his neighboring county and the situation,” Anderson said. “But I was provided with a name (for consideration) by the POST Council and I continued with that name.”
Sevier County Sheriff Nate Curtis also served on the six-member POST Director Search Committee.
Curtis reiterated Thursday that he was unwilling to confirm or deny whether he saw the video of Rigby prior to the interview and selection process.
“I don’t think it matters,” he said.
POST council member Jeanetta Williams, who also serves as president of the NAACP Salt Lake, said she was disappointed that no one mentioned Rigby’s video until the selection was made.
“[Carpenter]should have said something,” Williams said. “This position of POST director is an extremely important position … We’re not saying that (Rigby) isn’t a good man. We’re just saying there has to be some kind of protocol.”
POST Council Member Allen Swanson, who also serves as the Layton Police Department’s chief of police, said he would definitely have asked Rigby about the witness intimidation complaint if he had known about the video and had permission from POST Council’s legal department.
Loo declined an interview with FOX 13 News.
During a public meeting on Thursday, she told her colleagues that they “have to be transparent”.
“The information was important and should have been shared,” Loo said. “My guess is that a few people knew about the video, but I didn’t.”
In response to Loos’ letter, Anderson sent the following reply on October 24, 2022:
“I appreciate your openness and your willingness to participate in the POST Council. Their years of experience provide great reasoning and respect. I have heard from some of your colleagues who sit with you on the Council and the great respect they have for you and the attitude you have taken in being the only witness that principles trump politics. Your voice will continue to be a powerful resource for our law enforcement profession based on the ability to hold officers accountable and ensure fair principles… I look forward to working with you on these challenges in the future.”
Both Rigby and Carpenter declined to comment on the letter.
Two dozen members of the public attended Thursday’s meeting to make public comments.
Rigby sat and watched as friends, family, colleagues and members of his church defended his character.
“To say he’s an exceptional man is an understatement,” said Erik Rowland of Wasatch County Council. “I was really sad (to hear about Rigby’s appointment) because we were about to lose an extraordinary personality.”
“I’m very much in favor of Sheriff Jared Rigby. He’s my brother-in-law,” Neil Mahoney said. “I appreciate the value of the media in our world in making sure there is accountability in government decisions… and if there needs to be more process, let it be, but let it be fair.”
Rigby also listened to criticism from those who say he shouldn’t have been considered.
“There are important questions about the behavior depicted in this video, and this behavior cannot be ignored,” said Jeremy Jones, representative of the Utah Fraternal Order of Police. “This process should be restarted in a transparent manner.”
“How can the public have confidence that POST will fulfill its mission – to promote and enhance faith and trust in law enforcement – when it knowingly proceeds to appoint a director who will video intimidate officials for reporting wrongdoing ?” asked Ilana Raskind. “I urge you to reverse Sheriff Rigby’s appointment and move forward with a candidate who genuinely upholds the principles of integrity, honesty and trust.”
This article is published by the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of Utah news organizations dedicated to educating readers across the state.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2023/01/20/member-post-council-felt/ A member of the POST council believed that the sheriff’s nomination was rigged