Post Bureau Chief Outlines Investigative Process
A lieutenant with the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy confirmed last Friday that former Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis remains under investigation.
Lt. Steve Winward, bureau chief of investigations, said he could not give specific details surrounding the Zamantakis case. But he outlined the process a POST investigation takes and said the former police chief's voluntary resignation wouldn't stop the procedure.
"His resignation has no affect on the investigation," said Winward. "He still has the capability of getting another job in law enforcement."
According to Winward, once POST begins looking into a complaint it is required to follow through with the process.
Officers can be investigated for everything from committing crimes to breaking the law enforcement code of ethics, said Winward.
The code adopted by Utah peace officers reads:
"As a law enforcement officer my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice.
"I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
"I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminal, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
"I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession ...law enforcement."
Depending on the type of violation, judgments range from revocation to suspension of the officer's POST certification.
For example, an officer convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI) will receive a two-year suspension.
Winward said that, after his office thoroughly evaluates a case, including interviewing witnesses, POST investigators make a recommendation identifying what they believe to be a reasonable sentence.
The officer then has 10 days to accept or reject the recommendation. If it is accepted, the recommendation will be taken to the next quarterly POST Council meeting.
"The council has the final say," explained Winward.
If the officer under investigation doesn't accept the recommendation, another hearing is required. According to Winward, witnesses would be called and an administrative law judge would make the recommendation to POST Council.
Winward confirmed that his office has made a recommendation to Zamantakis, but said he wasn't certain if the case would be heard at the March 24 council meeting in St. George.
"If we have a hearing, we are not going to be able to have it in time for the March 24 session," concluded Winward. "But there is still a chance it may make it."