The allegations of a pattern of sexual harassment within the Salt Lake City Police Department made by three former and current female police officers are one more example of this Mayor’s disengaged approach to managing Salt Lake City. Such allegations, especially those made toward high-ranking officials within the police department, must be addressed directly and swiftly and the Mayor must take the lead, but he hasn't.
I work in law enforcement for Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. Police Departments are tasked with the dual challenges of protecting our citizens and enforcing the law. If a department cannot ensure its own officers are treated fairly and respectfully within the force, how can it achieve its mission with the public? Allegations of sexual harassment such as this one need to be investigated by an outside agency, especially when the accused has oversight over the process.
Even more concerning is the fact the perpetrator was allowed to remain on paid leave until he qualified for full retirement benefits. It has been nearly a year since the internal affairs department and Chief of Police sustained the victims’ allegations, with no comment or action from the Mayor. Only now that the victims have threatened to seek redress through the courts has the Mayor made a public statement on the issue.
Just last week, a day after the Mayor released a written statement about the sexual harassment case in the police department, he appointed a new Chief in the Fire Department, a man currently under investigation for sexual harassment. While I'm in no way am I assuming culpability or innocence and the process should be allowed to play out, it is disturbing that in light of the Police Department situation the Mayor and Council would proceed in appointing and promoting a man to Chief who is currently under investigation for sexual harassment.
The Mayor's actions and comments have left too many questions unanswered.
Why was the Mayor disengaged and publicly silent on these allegations, even after an investigation confirmed the charges?
Why was the Deputy Chief of Police allowed to remain on the city payroll for months until he qualified for full retirement? If the penalty for this type of behavior is relief from duty with full pay and benefits, where is the deterrent to future violations of this type?
What remedial actions and policy changes has the Mayor directed in order to prevent this type of unacceptable behavior in the future?
What message is the Mayor sending to the rest of the City's employees by promoting a man currently under investigation for sexual harassment to Fire Chief?
Salt Lake City needs a mayor who will take matters like this seriously and set the example. Salt Lake City deserves a mayor who will stand up for the rights of women and all City government employees, a mayor who will speak out and take charge when such unfortunate events occur.