‘Retired’ Woods Cross police chief was asked to resign, documents say
Sep 20, 2023, 12:09 PM
(Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
WOODS CROSS — Almost two weeks after Woods Cross said its police chief had retired, city documents reveal the chief was actually asked to resign amid allegations of improperly using department funds.
KSL.com received documents from Woods Cross administrators Tuesday through a public records request, including emails, letters and an investigative report. The documents detail allegations against former Chief Chad Soffe that led to his paid administrative leave, and ultimately to a separation agreement with the city.
Bryce Haderlie, Woods Cross city administrator, released a statement Aug. 15 saying Soffe had been placed on administrative leave July 27 but didn’t explain why. The newly released documents show that Soffe had been under investigation for 12 different allegations, but only one was found to be substantiated and another was a possible violation in need of further review.
Scott Buchanan, West Valley deputy chief of police from 2000 to May 2022, was appointed as interim police chief in Woods Cross on July 27. Haderlie noted that Buchanan’s appointment involved him having to “quickly” take on the new role.
On Aug. 11, Soffe implied he was retiring in a Facebook post, thanking the officers he worked with and saying, “It’s time to call it. When you know, you will know.”
Almost four weeks later, on Sept. 7, Haderlie released another statement saying Soffe had retired on Aug. 30. Haderlie later said Soffe’s “retirement” was a “unique situation” and that he couldn’t explain why.
But terms from a separation agreement signed Aug. 9 by Haderlie and Aug. 30 by Soffe said Soffe would “agree to voluntarily resign from your position” and accept $33,532 in separation pay and unused vacation. The agreement also includes confidentiality clauses.
Allegations against Soffe
An investigative report from the city says Soffe spoke with multiple city officials earlier this year and compiled a 52-page document of “behaviors, complaints and suggested corrective action” against Assistant Police Chief Adam Osoro. Osoro discovered the document and confronted Soffe about it on June 8.
The next day, Osoro emailed a complaint to Haderlie, saying he had been “unfairly targeted” by Soffe because of their “history of differences” and that Soffe was trying to get him fired. Osoro was still employed as of Tuesday, according to Jessica Sims, assistant city administrator.
“I can no longer, in good conscience, remain quiet regarding the steady decline of our police department under Chief Soffe’s command,” Osoro said in the June 9 email. “Chief Soffe boasts about his commitment to teamwork and unity, but his professional behavior contradicts these ideologies.”
At Haderlie’s request, Osoro later provided additional allegations against Soffe. The details of most of those grievances are redacted in the report and those same grievances were found to be not substantiated.
The one allegation that was substantiated was improper expenditure of city funds.
The investigative report says Soffe purchased a table for the department’s patrol room and submitted a fraudulent request for reimbursement from the city for $300. The check request said the table had been purchased from a yard sale and had an asking price of $1,000.
“Soffe admitted he personally owned the table for approximately 10 years, he did not purchase it at a garage sale and did not put accurate information on the reimbursement form,” the report states.
A second allegation accused Soffe of “unethical receipt of gifts/gratuities,” but the report says “mitigating circumstances may be present” and said further review may be warranted by Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Soffe had a personal Glock that was cerakoted (a special coating) by Black Elk Customs. When the chief picked up the weapon, the owner said he wanted to donate the cost of the service. The report says Soffe tried to pay multiple times, even handing the owner cash, but it was refused.
“It appears Soffe intended to pay for the cerakoting and made reasonable efforts to pay for the service. It would not have been reasonable for Soffe to abandon the pistol or have the coating removed,” the report says.
Osoro, however, said the chief told him not to tell anyone about the gift, “leading me to believe the Chief Soffe knew this was ethically questionable on his part.”
The allegations that were found to be not substantiated include insubordination; improper disclosure of confidential information to subordinates; violation of directives from city administration; use or misuse of city property; and failure to report information to city administration and/or outside agencies, including Brady Giglio matters; mishandling or improper possession of evidence; discrimination, favoritism, and/or bias in employment; falsification of reports; unprofessionalism and aggressive behavior; and integrity of internal affairs investigations.
Correction: An earlier version said Buchanan was the former West Valley police chief, but he was actually the deputy chief of police.