WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - West Valley City is taking its first step to stopping faulty police practices that led to widespread corruption allegations. The city is creating a new review panel to pinpoint the police problems that got them into all this legal trouble in the first place. The city has the perfect place for that panel to start.
West Valley is hoping to put an end to the problems plaguing its police force.
"Our next stage in that is yah, let's figure out how to address them," said West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle.
West Valley's City Manager is talking about the issues with the police department's former Neighborhood Narcotics Unit, disbanded last December. Right now the FBI is investigating the unit for corruption, all of its former members have been put on administrative leave, and so far prosecutors have dismissed 96 drug cases the unit worked on, because attorneys couldn't trust detectives' claims against alleged criminals.
"Those folks are citizens of our community, are not getting the measure of justice they deserve because of the conduct of one or several officers," said Sim Gill, Salt Lake Co. District Attorney.
So because of the drug cases debacle, West Valley City is forming a new "Special Review Panel" that it's hoping will be made up of attorneys, police and a judge. The panel will look at the laundry list of dismissed cases and advise the city on how to prevent police from making the same legal mistakes in the future.
"The first purpose really is to assess - What can we learn from this process? This case was dismissed why? What recommendation can we make in terms of making sure that doesn't happen?" said Pyle.
The City Manager tells Reporter Brian Carlson this is vital for West Valley. He said not only does the city need to stop the legal problems plaguing police, the city also needs to restore public trust.
"Because of the number of incidents, issues, problems we've had at the same time and the public perception, questions of confidence in our department, so its even more vital that do this, and we will," said Pyle.
Police are hoping to have this team together sometime in the next few days.
When the team gets started they'll have a mountain of work to do. The 96 dismissed drug cases are only a starting point. The Salt Lake County District Attorney is still reviewing other questionable cases, and from what ABC 4 is hearing there's a lot more on the way.