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Sandy officer fired after 2-week probe

A Sandy police officer was fired last month following a two-week investigation for allegedly violating departmental and city rules of conduct.

Police officials, however, refuse to discuss what specific rules they believe were violated.Sgt. Brian Small, a 17-year Sandy police veteran, was terminated Sept. 18 following an investigation by two senior officers, said Sandy Police Chief Sam Dawson.

Small has since appealed the termination and made an appearance before the Sandy City Police Public Safety Review Board for a disclosure hearing Monday. The board voted to close Small's grievance hearing to the public.

"He was discharged for violation of several rules of conduct of our department and violations of the code of conduct," Dawson said.

Dawson will not elaborate, even to say when the violations occurred, until after the appeal has been resolved. "I don't want to give any of the details out right now. That's all part of what the hearing will involve," he said.

However, the chief said other police officers were investigated in connection with the same violations. He would not reveal the number of officers involved, their identities or whether the violations took place while they were on duty.

"There was a general investigation that did involve other officers, and different levels of discipline were meted out to different officers," Dawson said. Only Small was discharged.

"We are appealing a termination of employment. We believe the disciplining is (both) inappropriate and disparate," said Brian Benevento, Small's attorney, after Monday's hearing. Benevento declined to answer additional questions.

During the closed-door hearing Monday, the board addressed the "grievant's request for documents," according to the agenda.

After the hearing, board chairman Ron Bullock declined to comment on the case or disclose any information about the alleged violations, saying the appeal is still in the "material disclosure" phase.

Bullock would not confirm or deny allegations from a source who told the Deseret News Small was fired for lying to the police administration during the investigation. However, he confirmed the investigation involved departmental and city policies.

Dawson said an "internal affairs investigation" began about two weeks prior to Small's termination after "we had information brought to us and we felt there was sufficient reason to look into it."

Small and the other officers being investigated were placed on paid administrative leave, Dawson said. At the end of the investigation, the investigators issued a recommendation.

The chief then held a "predisposition hearing" allowing Small a chance to respond to the results of the investigation. Dawson then reviewed the case with his senior staff, which also made a recommendation. Dawson then made the decision to discharge Small, he said.

Regarding the secrecy of the investigation, Dawson said: "We never inform the media about personnel actions. (The actions) are very controlled. They might be public things from your perspective, and we certainly don't mind at all you asking questions about them, but we are controlled very, very specifically about what we can release about a personnel action, because this person has a life to get on with. So we don't make public anything."

The actual appeal hearing is scheduled for Monday and is expected to last one day, Bullock said.