MONTICELLO — The city's police chief and two San Juan County Sheriff's Office employees were put on paid administrative leave Monday as a pair of investigations began into their handling of a 911 call about a former Monticello police sergeant's alleged assault on another man.
Chief Kent Adair was placed on leave just before 2 p.m., Monticello Mayor Tim Young said.
"I think once we discussed it, he understood this is a process that needed to happen," Young said. "We both want to be as open as possible."
San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge also confirmed Monday that a dispatcher who handled a 911 call from the estranged wife of former Monticello Police Sgt. Jesse Cole Young and a deputy who was initially notified of that call are both on paid leave while his office conducts an internal investigation.
"My agency is going to deal with this properly and do what's right to preserve the integrity of the department," said Eldredge, who did not identify the dispatcher or the deputy.
The city fired Jesse Young on Dec. 8 after four years with the Monticello Police Department. The termination came five days after Jesse Young, 36, was put on administrative leave following an incident at the home of his estranged wife.
Jesse Young's wife filed for divorce in September, court records show. On Dec. 2, he went to her home at about 11:35 p.m. and used a key to open a locked door, a San Juan County sheriff's deputy wrote in a probable cause statement.
"(Young) was told to leave and refused," the deputy wrote, adding that Jesse Young confronted a man inside the home and threw him against a wall.
"There was a dent in the Sheetrock where (the man's) head hit the wall," the deputy wrote. "All of the items on or against the same wall in the opposite room fell off the wall."
Jesse Young was booked into the San Juan County Jail for investigation of assault and criminal trespass of a dwelling. Formal charges had not been filed as of Monday.
Jesse Young's wife called 911 to report the incident but reportedly received no help for several hours. There are also concerns about how a sheriff's dispatcher and Adair reacted to the call.
The Deseret News filed a public records request Monday seeking copies of the dispatch recordings; however, Eldredge said that request will be denied, at least temporarily. The sheriff's office released the recordings "prematurely and in error" last week to a media outlet in San Juan County, which shared them with a media outlet in Salt Lake City, Eldredge said.
"We're not going to release them to anybody else until our internal investigation is complete," the sheriff said. "As soon as we're done, we'll do that. We want to be as transparent as we possibly can be."
Mayor Young acknowledged that he and Jesse Young are first cousins, though he said they consider themselves brothers because they were raised together. That is just one of the reasons the mayor said he is working to identify an outside law enforcement agency to conduct an independent investigation into a situation he characterized as "troublesome."
"Especially in a small community, people are always saying we're holding stuff back, playing favorites or covering things up," the mayor said. "We want this to be out in the open as much as possible so this doesn't damage any further the public opinion of our law enforcement in the city or the county."
Prior to Jesse Young's arrest, the Monticello Police Department had three sworn officers. With Young gone and the police chief on paid leave, the sheriff's office and Utah Highway Patrol are helping the only remaining Monticello officer cover calls for service.