West Jordan councilman filmed drunk on body cam could face censure

Source: KUTV

West Jordan City Council members will consider publicly censuring one of their own at their upcoming meeting Wednesday.

Councilman Chad Nichols has proposed a resolution to condemn the “malconduct” of his colleague, Councilman Jeff Haaga.

Haaga was recorded July 19 on police body camera video in which he appeared to be drunk. Officers cited him for hit-and-run after witnesses said he drove away from a local bar after hitting a car in the parking lot earlier that evening.

In the body cam video, Haaga is heard telling officers he is a city councilman and that he has “protection” as a result. He also accuses the officers – who were called from South Jordan due to the possible conflict of interest of investigating a city official – of not having authority over him.

The resolution sponsored by Nichols, which is scheduled to be heard at Wednesday’s city council meeting, condemns “in the strongest of terms” Haaga’s behavior. It also says no council member should “attempt to use his/her position to obtain preferential treatment from law enforcement personnel.”

The resolution also orders Haaga to refrain from similar behavior and review the city’s code of ethics.

Haaga was not cited for DUI the night of the incident. South Jordan Police Lt. Matt Pennington told 2News last month that too much time had passed by the time their officers arrived at Haaga’s house to investigate.

West Jordan city spokesman Kim Wells said the city was trying to avoid a conflict of interest and turned the investigation over to South Jordan police. Wells said the city was “not trying to stall things” by doing so.

A phone number listed for Haaga was not working Tuesday afternoon. Haaga also did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment, and no one answered the door at his house.

The move to censure Haaga is essentially the only thing the city council can do. Haaga remains in office, and state law makes it nearly impossible to remove him, said Deputy West Jordan Attorney Duncan Murray.

“There’s no penalties or anything involved,” said Murray. “Two-and-a-half-page reprimand is really all it is.”

Haaga was first elected to the West Jordan City Council in November 2013. His term expires January 2018. Several groups, including the Alliance for a Better Utah, have called on Haaga to resign.

Read KUTV article here.

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