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Former ‘Trooper of the Year’ demoted for false DUI arrests

Once, she was known for the high number of drivers she arrested for drinking and driving. Her reputation was so good that she was singled out as one of the best in her field. But now, the former Utah Highway Patrol’s Trooper of the Year is facing scrutiny about her tactics — and critics are asking the agency how she is still on the job.

An internal memo dated May 2010 indicates that UHP had reason to believe that the trooper, who made around 1,200 DUI arrests between 2008 and April 2012, regularly arrested people on suspicion of DUI despite the fact that the drivers were not intoxicated. The problem first came to light, according to the memo, when a prosecutor refused to press charges against one of the trooper’s suspects.

After that red flag, the author of the memo, a UHP sergeant, looked into 20 of the trooper’s DUI arrests. He found that 11 of the 20 were not legally intoxicated. Of the 11, four “had nothing at all” in their systems, the author said.

Despite the concerns one would think this memo would have raised, UHP allowed the trooper to stay on patrol for nearly two more years. Then, in April, she was demoted to a desk job. A UHP spokesman declined to give specific reasons for the demotion, except to say that “a section commander felt there was something that needed to be addressed.”

Still unanswered is why UHP did not follow up on the 2010 memo more quickly, or how many people were wrongfully convicted of DUI based on the trooper’s arrest and testimony.

Source: KSTU-TV, “Leaked memo calls into question UHP trooper’s DUI arrests,” Gene Kennedy, Oct. 13, 2012

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