Monday, July 28, 2014

Civil service commission overturns former West Valley lieutenant's demotion

By Morgan Jacobsen, Deseret News

Published: Thu, May 15 11:25 p.m. MDT

 A civil service commission for West Valley City on Thursday overturned the demotion of a former police lieutenant who oversaw the department's narcotics unit before it was disbanded.

A civil service commission for West Valley City on Thursday overturned the demotion of a former police lieutenant who oversaw the department's narcotics unit before it was disbanded.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

WEST VALLEY CITY — A civil service commission for West Valley City overturned the demotion of a former police lieutenant who oversaw the department's narcotics unit before it was disbanded in 2012.

The Neighborhood Narcotics Unit, headed by John Coyle, was under scrutiny after officers were discovered to have mishandled drugs and money, kept items seized in cases, and committed other policy violations that led to the dismissal of 126 state and federal felony cases.

Coyle was cleared in an internal investigation but was demoted to patrol officer in August last year. He appealed the demotion through the city's civil service commission, and the decision to reinstate Coyle as lieutenant was released Thursday.

The commission said Coyle had committed "technical violations" of policy, but "the severity of Lt. Coyle's discipline — demotion — is disproportionate to his conduct as the lieutenant in charge of the Neighborhood Narcotics Unit when examined in light of his previous disciplinary history and the supervision he received," the commission stated in its written decision.

Further, the commission ruled that the demotion "is not consistent with the treatment of other officers for similar conduct."

The decision was met with disappointment from the department, according to West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku.

"We respect the civil service commission and the work that they do. However, we strongly disagree with the decision that was made," she said. "We stand behind the discipline (and) feel it was absolutely appropriate."

Vainuku said there was a "strong likelihood" that the department would file an appeal.

The department saw Coyle's violations of policy as more severe due to his rank and the level of influence he had in the department, Vainuku said.

"Violations of department policy at the level of police lieutenant are violations that affect an entire department," she said.

Coyle will receive back pay amounting to about $20,000 and will be assigned to administrative duties in the office of the chief until a more permanent placement is determined, Vainuku said.

Coyle's attorney, Erik Strindberg, said he was "impressed" with how the commission handled the case.

"Disciplinary decisions are always sort of made in the heat of the moment," Strindberg said. "Civil service commissions are important because they get to look at all of the evidence in a calm light. … They really took a hard, careful look at the evidence, and I firmly believe made the correct decision."

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

Recommended
1. Midvaliean
MIDVALE, UT,
May 16, 2014

In light of what happened in their police department, it sounds like the Civil Service allowed corruption to come right back into the core the of the department. The WVPD doesn't want him back, for obvious reasons. As the public that should "scare" us just a bit.

2. Flashback
Kearns, UT,
May 16, 2014

This is a prime example of why we need a metro police department in this valley.

3. Northern
Logan, UT,
May 16, 2014

Crooked cops being reinstated by crooked officials. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.