Rift between law enforcement officials and Iron County Attorney Garrett said to be resolved

In this file photo, Scott Garrett speaks to Cedar City News/St. George News after the trial of Grant Louis Biedermann who was found guilty of aggravated assult in relation to shooting at and injuring an Iron County County Sheriff's deputy, Cedar City, Utah, June 15, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, Cedar City News/St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Last month a collective of law enforcement agencies sent a letter to Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett asking for a meeting to address concerns that he was letting his personal feelings impair his judgment. However, in the wake of the February letter being made public through the media, the police agencies and Garrett say those concerns have been resolved.

St. George News acquired the letter through a public records request.

The letter, signed by the Iron County and Beaver County sheriffs and the police chiefs for Cedar City, Enoch, Brian Head, Parowan and Southern Utah University was sent Feb. 13. In it they wrote to Garrett:

It is our concern that you are unable to keep your personal feelings, prejudices, and animosities from impairing your judgment.”

Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins’ name was listed on the letter, but he did not sign it as the others had.

The concerns expressed by the police agency heads have developed over months and years, the letter states, and have not been resolved.

“The basis upon which our collective opinions and concerns are formed have come through personal experience, perception, and officer and citizen complaints,” the sheriffs and chiefs wrote.

The letter goes on to list various points of concern, some of which are listed below as written in the letter:

  • Vindictive behavior towards members of law enforcement with a display of hostility, retaliation and arrogance.
  • A lack of trust and confidence in your ability to review, and prosecute cases without bias; and law enforcement’s subsequent unwillingness to work with you, which has been conveyed to us by many from our collective group of agencies.
  • Vindictive, retaliatory behavior, and poor management causing a decrease in morale and adversely affecting the retention of qualified, dedicated, and committed personnel within the Iron County Attorney’s Office.
  • The very concerning and questionable termination of Chief Deputy Iron County Attorney Troy Little, citing specific causes only to rescind the termination and rehire him. This entire situation has given law enforcement the impression that your decision making is based on animosities and politics rather than on principle.
  • The repeated attempts and threats to criminally charge local law enforcement officers and / or designate them as “Brady cops.”

The sheriffs and police chiefs again asked to meet with Garrett in person to work together to “resolve these issues and create an amiciable path moving forward,” the letter states.

Garrett’s response

Garrett responded to the letter Feb 21.

I am surprised and saddened to learn that you feel this way about me and my performance as the Iron County Attorney,” Garrett wrote. “While I suspect that this letter was – at least in part – politically motivated, I also value the opinions and expertise of each of you and hope that I can remedy some of your concerns in writing today.”

Garrett is seeking re-election as the Iron County Attorney.

Some of the concerns expressed by Iron County law enforcement administrators were “very general,” which made them difficult to substantively address, Garrett said. He expressed a desire to meet and rectify the issues raised in the letter.

The most specific point raised by the police agency heads, however, which involved Deputy Iron County Attorney Troy Little, was addressed in Garrett’s response.

In this file photo, Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett, in his closing argument, describes for the jury how Grant Louis Biedermann aimed the gun at two deputies, Cedar City, Utah, June 15, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole | Cedar City News/St. George News

“Due to Troy’s ongoing refusal to communicate with me, which caused serious problems in my office’s ability to function, I issued a Notice of Intent to Terminate his employment on January 23, 2018,” Garrett said.

However, the termination wasn’t set to take effect until after the date Little was – or wasn’t – named a new 5th District juvenile court judge, a position he had applied for and been named a finalist for at the time.

The notice of termination went public, something Garrett said wasn’t his intent.

“In retrospect, I regret the timing of the Notice and as soon I as learned that Troy had made it public, rescinded it so as not to interfere with Troy’s judicial application.”

In early February, Gov. Gary Herbert selected Little to replace outgoing judge Thomas Higbee, who retires at the end of April.

Law enforcement agencies and Garrett respond as letter made public

Fox 13 News published excerpts from the letter the police agencies sent to Garrett Friday afternoon. They and Garrett, albeit through his attorney, responded soon after, expressing their disappointment and concern over the letter’s release.

“The letter that was sent to Mr. Garrett was intended to be for his eyes only,” the police agency heads said in a statement to Fox 13 News. “Our sincere intention was to allow him the opportunity to meet with us and openly communicate in a concerted effort to resolve our concerns, and create a mutually-beneficial path and productive working relationship moving forward.”

The letter wasn’t meant to be a “political statement,” they said, and added that they met with Garrett March 2.

The meeting was productive and Mr. Garrett was open and receptive to our concerns,” the police agency heads said.

They also said they are working on a new letter to Garrett addressing their collective path forward that “reveals that we have addressed the issues contained in the letter and have a plan moving forward to enhance communication and positively deal with any concerns that may arise.”

Through his attorney, Garrett stated he still believes the letter was politically motivated and added he is disappointed at its going public.

“Mr. Garrett is deeply disappointed that the politically motivated letter he received on February 13th has been released to the public, especially because he has already addressed the false allegations contained in the letter and understood that the letter had been rescinded,” Garrett’s attorney said in a statement to Fox 13 News Saturday evening.

Garrett’s attorney went on to state that his client has met with those who signed the letter and addressed their specific concerns.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • Proud Rebel March 10, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Political? In an election year? Nah, not a chance.
    OTOH, if the county attorney had been doing the job he was elected to do, this just wouldn’t be a question. He is obviously biased against law enforcement. It has been painfully obvious.

    • Striker4 March 11, 2018 at 6:02 am

      You would have to be blind not to see it

  • SSTEED March 13, 2018 at 6:01 am

    Hey if he holds the polices’ feet to the fire he has my vote, even if it is all faux show. Somebody certainly needs to.

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