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Logan police chief’s confirmation still on hold

October 10th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Brendon Butler

LOGAN — The emergence of a YouTube video has stalled the swearing in of Logan police chief designate Gary Jensen.

The video should have been just a minor bump in the road to the former Vernal chief of police becoming Logan’s new top cop. But just before the Oct. 6 City Council meeting, the flurry of finger-pointing between Jensen, Mayor Randy Watts and Councilwoman Tami Pyfer resulted in the council voting to suspend Jensen’s nomination until the next city council meeting Oct. 20.

The video shows Jensen while on duty, giving his police-issued nunchaku weapon to a bystander who subsequently whipped his friend over the buttocks. Later, Jensen appears to give a gold coin to the whipped man, who then takes the nunchaku and horses around some more.

Watts may have started the confusion when he remarked to the council on Oct. 5 that “the Vernal City Council, after looking at (the video) on YouTube, looked at it and dismissed it immediately. It never went anywhere with them.”

Tami Pyfer repeated the same information, which she said Mayor Watts told her. However, The Herald Journal reported that Vernal Mayor Allan Mashburn and Councilmen Cal Dee Reynolds and Bert Clark had never seen the video, or even known about it.

In an interview with The Herald Journal, Jensen said he believes he did not tell Mayor Watts that the Vernal City Council had seen the video. He said he told Watts that the Vernal City Manager had seen the video and discussed it with Jensen.

Now Logan council members are clamming up. Pyfer said in an interview Oct. 9 that she officially has no comment until next week, after she has had time to investigate further. Councilman Jay Monson was the only council member to comment on the issue, saying he planned to vote for Jensen’s nomination.

“I thought the video was blown all out of proportion,” Monson said. “I thought it was a dumb thing … that it was probably poor judgment, but it’s not any reason not to appoint him. He has a great record and everyone in Vernal is sorry to see him go. Yes, I am planning to vote for him and I don’t have any problems at all with his nomination.”

Watts did not immediately return a phone call to his office seeking comment.

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