ACET approves policy changes

Board meets after ex-PD detective's arrest


— In light of an ongoing criminal investigation into former Craig Police detective Ken Johnson, the All Crimes Enforcement Team board plans to implement some changes to internal policies.

The board oversees most aspects of the drug task force, and it includes representatives from the Craig, Hayden and Steamboat police departments, as well as the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Although officials are altering some internal procedures, several officials from law enforcement, the courts and local government have come out in support of ACET and its officers since Johnson's arrest.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said the entire board takes all issues raised by Johnson's arrest seriously.

"With that said, I would also like to say that one person made a conscious decision to break the law and every law enforcement ethic that I can think of," Vanatta wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. "The other members of the ACET team have demonstrated that they have a great deal of integrity, are professional and dedicated."

The police chief and Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz have said recently that ACET is the most important piece in fighting drug distribution.

The agency recently was heavily involved in two investigations, they said, one that secured more than a pound of methamphetamine and a half-pound of cocaine, and another that led to a large drug source in Salt Lake City.

Johnson was charged Oct. 2 with three felonies that stem from his time as a police officer and ACET investigator.

He is charged with attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony; accessory to crime, a Class 5 felony; and embezzlement of public property, also a Class 5 felony.

The first change made at ACET, however, was not directly related to any criminal charges Johnson now faces in Moffat County Court.

Garrett Wiggins, ACET commander, reported to police he suspected Johnson tampered with a computer evidence file against local woman Tausha Merwin, who Johnson was allegedly involved with during his tenure in law enforcement.

Investigators for the District Attorney's Office have not been able to find concrete evidence that it was Johnson who altered the file, mostly because the ACET computer system did not track specific computer users.

As of last week, law enforcement already spent $3,000 to update the ACET system to what Craig police use. Under the new programming, reports cannot be altered once approved, and the system tracks anyone who opens computer reports.

The District Attorney's Office sent some of the ACET computer system to a forensics lab in Centennial to see whether there is any evidence linking Johnson to the altered reports. The lab's findings have not come back but could lead to additional charges against the former detective.

Another issue raised in evidence against Johnson is the involvement of police officers in Moffat County Drug Court, specifically how they assist probation officers.

Johnson is alleged to have helped Merwin violate her probation while she was a Drug Court client.

Vanatta said Police Commander Bill Leonard is working on a memorandum of understanding with the Moffat County Probation Department that will iron out specific guidelines for officer involvement.

The board also decided to return to an older policy of having a board official sit in on weekly ACET meetings to help the information flow between ACET and other law enforcement.

Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch will be at most meetings, Vanatta said, and be available to ACET officials if they need assistance.

Vanatta also said he would include ACET news in his monthly reports to the community so residents will be more aware of what the organization is doing.

The information will be fairly generic, the chief added, to protect ongoing investigations.


taxslave 7 years, 6 months ago

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