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Sandy fires police chief for alleged inappropriate touching

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SANDY — Sandy Police Chief Kevin Thacker was fired Tuesday over “concerns of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior” following a three-week investigation.

Mayor Kurt Bradburn made the announcement Tuesday during a press conference in the Sandy City Council chambers.

Thacker, who has been with the department for more than 30 years and chief for four years, was placed on leave three weeks ago. A final report conducted by a law firm found there were “multiple corroborating individuals who witnessed Chief Thacker engage in inappropriate touching and unprofessional conduct,” Bradburn said.

FILE - Sandy Police Chief Kevin Thacker is pictured during an underage drinking prevention effort on Monday, April 27, 2015, at City Hall.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

FILE – Sandy Police Chief Kevin Thacker is pictured during an underage drinking prevention effort on Monday, April 27, 2015, at City Hall.

His behavior led to a “negative working environment,” the mayor said.

Furthermore, Bradburn said Thacker had been cautioned about similar behavior in the past, though he was not placed on leave for it.

“Because the report found that this conduct had not stopped, I made the decision to terminate his employment with Sandy City effective immediately,” the mayor said, calling it the right decision for the department and residents. “By swiftly dealing with this issue, I hope we have upheld public trust and sent the message this behavior will not be tolerated in my administration.”

Bradburn confirmed Thacker was accused of harassing police department employees but declined to say how many or for how long, only noting there were “multiple incidents” over a “number of years.”

Whether the harassment started before Thacker was chief was unknown Tuesday.

Thacker’s firing comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed last month against former Provo Police Chief John King. Five women are seeking an unspecified amount in excess of $600,000 in compensation, as well as new measures to prevent sexual misconduct from occurring in Provo government, for alleged behavior by King that ranged from leering to inappropriate comments to unsolicited touching, groping and one allegation of rape.

King resigned in March of 2017. He stated at the time that he needed to spend more time with his family in Maryland.

In Davis County, it was announced Monday that five employes from the sheriff’s office and the jail were placed on paid leave amid a review of how the office handled a sexual harassment complaint. The employees returned to work last week.

Bradburn said he could not make a legal judgment of whether Thacker’s behavior rose to the level of criminal conduct. He did not specify whether a case would be presented to prosecutors to review for potential charges.

Sandy Deputy Police Chief Bill O’Neal, who had been serving as interim chief during Thacker’s absence, will remain as interim chief until a new one is hired.

Thacker was hired as a full-time officer in 1983 and as chief in 2014. For many years he was the face of the department, acting as its spokesman. Thacker was the public information officer when three Sandy police officers — including O’Neal — found Elizabeth Smart on State Street in 2003 and took her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, into custody.

Sandy police declined comment on Tuesday, referring all questions regarding Thacker to the mayor’s office because it is considered a personnel matter.

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