Ephraim police chief to retire
By Suzanne Dean
Sept. 14, 2017
EPHRAIM—Chief Ron Rasmussen of the Ephraim Police Department, whose failure to write many incident reports became the focus of an investigation during June, announced his retirement last week after 28 years with the city.
Rasmussen’s retirement announcement at a special Ephraim City Council meeting Sept. 8 was consistent with comments he made in an interview published in the Sanpete Messenger July 13.
At that time, the chief, who is 52, who “retired in place” a few years ago and who was already receiving state retirement pay, said his focus was to hire new officers to get the department up and running again, following resignations of three patrol officers.
He said he and his wife would “make a decision after that” as to how long he would continue in his position.
The chief’s retirement announcement brought accolades from Ephraim Mayor Richard Squire and the city council.
Remarking that Rasmussen had created a legacy in Ephraim, Mayor Squire said, “We’d like to acknowledge your many years of service to Ephraim City (and) the manner in which you conducted yourself and the affairs of the police department.”
The mayor added, “I think it’s a testament to you how you’ve handled the past few months, the hardships placed on you and your family, (and) the stress.”
He also commended Rasmussen for “getting this police department back together to run smoothly into the future.”
Mayor Squire said he would remember Rasmussen “as that Andy Griffith-type officer who worked to educate and worked for the benefit of citizens, not to harass or being into line through intimidation…”
Councilman Richard Wheeler told Rasmussen, “You hold your head up high.” He said Rasmussen had given 28 years of service “to a community that maybe sometimes didn’t deserve you because of all the good you did do.”
Following the city council meeting, Brant Hanson, Ephraim City manager, issued a press release crediting Rasmussen for hiring “four highly qualified officers and a new administrative assistant.” The release said Rasmussen had also “implemented key protocols to improve the overall efficiency of the department.”
With his wife, Tracy, two of his children, long-time Sgt. Len Gasser and a representative from the Snow College Public Safety Department, among others, in the audience at the special council meeting, Rasmussen made a brief statement to the mayor and council.
“Carrying the title of police officer is not always easy,” he said. “The hard times outnumber the good times, but the good times outweigh the hard times.”
He said he had been humbled by the “outpouring of support” he received from Ephraim residents after being placed on administrative leave. “Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, love, phone calls, text messages and visits,” he said.
“My family and I have had many challenges and obstacles over the past year. Those challenges, in addition to the many years of public service, have influenced this decision. Ephraim City residents will always have a special place in my heart.”
At the special meeting, the city council unanimously approved a “separation agreement and mutual release.”
The document says Rasmussen’s retirement will be effective Sept. 30. He will receive a severance package of $55,387, including $43,996 in pay, equivalent to six months of salary, and $11,420 to cover six months of health, dental and vision insurance.
The city has been contributing $23,000 per year to Rasmussen’s 401K. But under the agreement, those contributions will cease on his Sept. 30 termination date.
The separation agreement also contained more than a page of legal hold-harmless language more typically used in a forced departure than a voluntary retirement.
The city agreed to defend and indemnify Rasmussen for any claims arising out his acts or omissions while employed.
In turn, Rasmussen agreed “never to commence, prosecute (or) assist another party to commence or prosecute” any “action or proceeding” against the city.
Under the agreement, Rasmussen and the city mutually agreed “not to make disparaging or defamatory comments or statement about one another, or any person or entity associated or affiliated with the city…”
On June 9, the city placed Rasmussen on administrative leave and called in investigators from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office to looking into allegations from patrol officers that the chief chronically failed to complete his police reports and fell down on the job in other ways.
After investigators determined that none of Rasmussen’s actions violated the law, the council voted in a closed session to reinstate the chief. On June 23, the city issued a press release saying Rasmussen would remain in his position.
With that announcement, all three of the city’s patrol officers signed a resignation letter excoriating the chief’s performance over the years. The city immediately accepted the resignations.
Ephraim City published an advertisement this week for a new police chief (see page 13 of this newspaper).