Provo law enforcement leaders make crime prevention case for expanding health coverage 01

Provo Police Chief John King speaks at a press conference at the Provo Municipal Council Chamber on May 19, 2015.

Chief King called on state policymakers to extend health insurance coverage, particularly in areas of mental health, in order to reduce crime. SPENSER HEAPS, Daily Herald

Provo Police Chief John King was asked Monday to resign his position by Mayor John Curtis following an investigation into a sexual assault allegation made against the chief.

King previously announced Tuesday morning he elected to resign due to family matters he needed to attend to on the East Coast.

Curtis said Wednesday afternoon he asked for King’s resignation after the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office declined to press charges following an investigation by the Unified Police Department.

King refused comment Wednesday through a representative with the Provo Police Department.

Brian Lohrke, public information officer for the Unified Police Department, said Wednesday evening he could not offer more information at this time. A public records request for King’s Unified Police Department case records has been filed.

The two Salt Lake County agencies were asked to conduct the investigation by Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

A March 1 letter sent to Buhman by the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office indicated the office had completed a full investigation on the accusation of sexual assault.

“Based upon the information provided to our office for screening, we have determined we are unable to proceed with the prosecution of J. King,” wrote Blake Nakamura, chief deputy district attorney.

The initial complaint against King came via a Feb. 8 phone call to Curtis. Curtis immediately contacted Provo City Attorney Robert West and West called Buhman, asking for the Utah County Attorney’s Office to do an investigation.

Curtis said allegations of this nature are taken seriously and acted upon swiftly.

“Minutes didn’t pass before I went to the city attorney,” Curtis said.

Curtis said he found it odd the woman making the allegation would call him. She is not a city employee and had not filed a report with the Police Department.

He said during the phone conversation she hinted that some type of sexual assault had taken place.

“She never used the word rape or sexual assault but was alluding to them,” Curtis said. “I used the word ‘rape’ with her and asked her if it was sexual assault; she said yes.”

Curtis said he had one more call from the woman sometime later saying she had not been contacted by the investigating agency. Curtis said he immediately let the Salt Lake investigators know and the woman was called within the hour.

“Although I didn’t have all the information, I had enough information from the investigation to tell him (King) he needed to move on,” Curtis said. “There is a standard of conduct expected from a mayor or police chief. I asked him to resign.”

A city press conference to address the situation has been set for Thursday morning.

Curtis said he talked with the four captains of the department Tuesday morning about the transition as one of the four will fill the role as interim chief while the search for a new chief ensues, according to Tuesday’s Daily Herald story about King.

“I believe any one of the four would be qualified to serve in that role,” Curtis said. “My goal is to have interviewed all four captains and selected an interim chief by Monday to serve in that role for three months.”

King came to Provo in January 2014 after an extensive law enforcement career primarily in Maryland, most recently as the chief of police in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Daily Herald reporter Kurt Hanson contributed to this story. Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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