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Top cop hiring is causing a stir

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MAPLETON — City officials believe a ruckus over the new acting head of the police department not being a certified police officer is a tempest in a teapot.

Mapleton's City Council insists it did not name Stan Kantor, a retired police captain from California, as the city's interim police chief to work in recently retired Chief Bret Barney's place until a replacement is found.

Rather, according to the resolution passed in June by the council, Kantor was named as interim "chief police administrator."

"The layman may not know the difference," said Mayor Richard Young, "But technically he can't engage in police activity."

Young told the Deseret News that the title may have led to a

misunderstanding among residents in the city.

The resolution to name the "police administrator "says that an interim chief was needed to replace Barney. However, it does not specifically named Kantor as "interim chief."

"He can't carry a gun or wear a badge or take on the mantel of chief of police," said Steve DeMille, deputy director of Utah Police Officer Standards and Training. "He can't impersonate a police officer."

DeMille said, however, that Kantor can work out of the mayor's office as an administrator of the department.

Former police officers who have been out of law enforcement more than four years must be recertified by POST before they can find another job as an officer, he said.

Kantor, formerly with the police department in Anaheim, Calif., has been out of law enforcement since retiring in 1994.

Kantor approached POST after Mapleton named him to lead the eight-man police force following Barney's sudden retirement announcement.

"He was told he needed to go back to the academy," DeMille said. But Kantor didn't give any indication he would recertify.

Young said a new police chief could be named by late August, precluding Kantor's need to recertify.

"He (Kantor) isn't a candidate," Young said.

Kantor, who is on vacation and unavailable for comment, and former Brigham Young University police chief Bob Kelshaw will develop a short list of candidates for Young and city administrator Keith Morey to consider.

The City Council will make the final decision.

The revelation continues the controversy between the police department and the tiny city's administration.

The department has been at the center of controversy since mid-April when residents turned out in force to protest the City Council's plan to disband the force and contract with the Utah County Sheriff's Department for police services. The council backed down from the plan but later targeted the department for budget cuts to rectify a projected shortfall in revenues, including a police grant. The suggested cuts included making the chief's position part-time and eliminating a sergeant position.

A short time later, Sgt. Chuck Senn was suspended over an apparent tiff with Councilman Don Walker Jr. Senn was reinstated two weeks later with no salary reduction or demotion. But Senn was fired last Friday following an internal investigation conducted by a West Valley City investigator at the request of city officials.

The tiff with Walker and Senn's comments to the media alleging Barney was forced to retire following Barney's unexpected retirement announcement were cited as reasons for the firing. Senn's lawyer, Scott Card, says the firing will be appealed to the council. Card said he believes the actions are part of a plan to eventually dismantle the department.

Barney's surprise retirement included a City Council-approved $20,000 retirement package intended to cover a shortfall in earlier city contributions to the state retirement fund so that Barney could receive a full state pension.

"This is not a grand master plan to dismantle the police department as Chuck (Senn's) attorney says," Young counters.

"(Kantor) has in excess of 30 years in police work. He's not some Bozo," Young said. "I'm pleased with the department and the way we're going."

E-MAIL: rodger@desnews.com