The West Valley City Police Department has announced the results of an audit of its former sex crimes unit. The audit focused on an allegation that a large number of cases last year were left uninvestigated, and that a member of the unit had inappropriately closed cases without following protocol.
Of the 260 cases reviewed, the internal audit found issues with 13. Three involving domestic violence were found to have discrepancies. And 10 were listed by one detective as having been screened by prosecutors when there was no record that that had happened. West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo says in a majority of the cases, officers acted professionally and appropriately, but he says it’s unacceptable that the department failed to meet expectations in a few instances.
“We have victims out there that the system didn’t work for,” Russo says. “The police department is hurt because it didn’t meet an expectation of the community and the criminal justice system.”
Russo says the cases have been referred to internal affairs for investigation.
“Could it be a combination of negligence? Could it be a combination of just being overworked and somebody intended to do something that never got done?” Russo says. “Those are the hard questions we have to ask from an internal affairs perspective.”
Russo says the detectives in the sex crimes unit have been reassigned or transferred to other divisions. He says he’s implementing review practices to prevent problems of a similar nature happening in the future. A department-wide audit of all criminal cases in the past year continues. Russo says he expects to complete a review of more than 1,300 cases in the next month.