Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby’s P.O.S.T. job remains in limbo; supporters speak out
Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby is still awaiting a decision on whether he’ll be appointed to lead a state law enforcement office. Last week, dozens of citizens voiced opinions about Rigby and the video that delayed his appointment.
Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby’s eligibility to direct Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training is still up in the air.
That state agency, more commonly called P.O.S.T., oversees law enforcement training, certifications and internal investigations.
Rigby expected to start the new job January 9, but a resurfaced video from a September 2021 internal affairs investigation interrupted that process.
In the video, Rigby speaks with a former Heber City Police officer about an excessive use of force case involving Heber’s police chief. The videotaped conversation took place after that case was closed and Chief Dave Booth exonerated.
In the video, Rigby tells the officer that contradicting the investigation’s results by telling subordinates that Booth did use excessive force could limit the officer’s future in the department.
“You can dig in your heels and say, ‘This is how I feel, and no one’s going to change,’ and okay, that’s your decision,” Rigby said. “You just won’t get any trusted positions having to do with [defensive tactics] and use of force, sergeant, and those kinds of things.”
Members of the P.O.S.T. Council who voted to select Rigby for the leadership role said they hadn’t seen the video before nominating him. Now, Governor Spencer Cox’s office is looking deeper into Rigby’s background.
A spokesperson in Cox’s office declined to comment on when that review could conclude.
Dennis Gunn was one of more than 20 people who spoke at a P.O.S.T. Council meeting Thursday. He said he knew Rigby personally after 14 years serving as a firefighter and EMT for Wasatch and Summit counties and had full confidence in him.
“For P.O.S.T., he deserves to be here,” Gunn said. “I do not, however, disagree with the process of making sure. You guys are the keeper of the gate, and the governor. [You] need to make sure you don't put somebody in there that's going to cause problems, and I assure you with my name, you're not doing that. If you put Sheriff Rigby in there, you will not regret it.”
P.O.S.T. Council Chair Wade Carpenter said the next step is for the governor’s office to complete the review.
No decisions were made Thursday, but the majority of speakers — most of them residents and government leaders in Wasatch County — expressed support for the sheriff. Many said they didn’t want him to leave the county but believed he deserved the new job. Some said he was a victim of unfair media coverage because sound bites from the video were presented out of context.
Wasatch County resident Todd Beagley said he’s worked with the sheriff for Midway Swiss Days, in church functions and on executive committees, and he supports Rigby.
“I've worked with him and his deputies over that time,” said Wasatch County resident Todd Beagley, who said he had worked with Rigby in several capacities. “Prior to this, I watched the full videos, I watched the clipped videos. I did my own investigation with his officers that I swore to them would never be told out of his lips — and I won't tell Jared who I talked to — but all of them stood behind him 100%. And I stand behind him 100%.”
Some shared different opinions.
Jeremy Jones is an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police national union for law enforcement officers. He said Rigby’s conduct in the video warranted the further review into whether Rigby allowed personal bias to influence his investigation into Booth.
Ilana Raskind said Rigby’s appointment would be a blow to public trust in the state agency in charge of holding law enforcement accountable.
“I was deeply troubled by the video footage of Sheriff Rigby intimidating a fellow officer for reporting this conduct,” she said. “As many of us are aware of, public confidence in the police is at an all-time low.”
Rigby said he spoke to the officer to counsel him at the request of Heber City.
“The timing of the conversation with this officer is critical to understand,” Rigby said in a video he published days after his swearing-in was canceled, “because it shows the police chief was already exonerated, and I was not trying to influence the outcome of the investigation of the chief.”