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Maybe the public could shrug off one scandal in the Carbon County sheriff's office. Maybe.

But there have been so many blunders and controversies involving Sheriff Barry Bryner that it's hard to see how they can possibly be explained away. It's also hard to see how the damage could be repaired without drastic action.Under the circumstances, the Carbon County Commission did the right thing by suspending Sheriff Bryner without pay following its pointed suggestion that he retire.

The latest problem involving Bryner occurred only this week when he was arrested after a high-speed chase from Helper to Price and charged with drunken driving.

After this episode, Bryner was stripped of his powers as a peace officer by the State Department of Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Earlier, Bryner was the target of a Peace Officer Standards and Training investigation into allegations that he had sex with a dispatcher while on duty and lied about it.

Bryner also has been the object of discrimination and harassment complaints by current and former employees, who contended they were given the worst shifts and assignments because they had supported his opponent for sheriff.

Sheriff Bryner, a 20-year law enforcement veteran whose term expires in 1991, will be eligible for full retirement at the end of this month.

By replacing Sheriff Bryner as quickly as possible, Carbon County can spare itself the possibility of more controversy, more morale problems, more embarrassment for other lawmen throughout Utah, and more erosion of public confidence in Bryner in particular and the law in general.