By Jordan Ormond
A well-respected law enforcement career ended for former Utah County Sheriff”s Deputy Sean Davis in October 2003. It was then Davis pled guilty to four counts of first-degree attempted sodomy of a child.
“He was a hard worker with a good work ethic,” Utah County Sheriff James O. Tracy said. “[His work] was much appreciated.”
Despite Davis” good work, Tracy said that the department could not overlook his violations of the law.
“Conduct and character do matter,” Tracy said.
Original allegations were made against Davis in 1995, but after a thorough investigation by Utah”s Attorney General they were determined “unfounded.”
In 2003, allegations resurfaced when one of Davis” victims came forward.
Tracy said an investigation began and Davis” employment status was immediately changed to “suspended with pay.” As the investigation progressed and more details surfaced, Davis” status was adjusted to “suspended without pay” and he was ultimately terminated.
Davis was sentenced to six years to life on Jan. 9, 2004 for his crimes.
Robert Morris, Deputy Director of Utah”s Peace Officer Standards and Training Department, said that criminal offences committed by law enforcement are “few and far between,” but just one offence is serious.
The seriousness of this case may have the public worried about how safe and reliable their police departments really are. Some may question how often this type of misbehavior occurs in Utah”s law enforcement agencies.
Morris said not very often.
According to Morris the public can be assured that even after all the screening that takes place before an officer is certified, officers are constantly being monitored.
He said almost all law enforcement agencies send their officers through a screening process before they are hired. Much of that screening — including extensive background checks and psychological evaluations — is conducted before an applicant can even be admitted to the police academy.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent [of problems] are screened out,” Morris said.
However, he said there might be some abnormal behavior that didn”t show up in initial screenings.
“People do weird things sometimes,” he said.
Whether Davis” problems were missed in initial screenings, or he developed them after becoming an officer, the public can be assured the department did everything necessary to prevent future incidents as soon as they found out what was going on, Sergeant Spencer Cannon, Public Information Officer at the Utah County Sheriff”s Department, said.
Cannon said he believes there is a public concern that police officers will “cover for their own” but assures neither he nor the people he works with would ever cover for someone.
“We”re here to stop people from hurting people,” he said.
Over the past several months the Utah County Sheriff”s Department has felt the impact of Davis” crimes. Cannon said the department feels betrayed by their former deputy”s actions.
“I don”t know anyone who wasn”t a friend to Sean,” he said, “It hurts.”
“One tarnish of a police officer is a big deal.” Morris said.
Cannon said he knows there will be people who”ll question law enforcement because of this. However, he hopes the public can see through what Davis has done.
“[Davis is] not the rule, he”s the exception,” Cannon said.