SANDY — A high-profile former police officer will be allowed to reapply for a job as a law enforcer in Utah, but he will have to wait four years.
Monday, the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council voted to suspend former Cottonwood Heights police officer Beau Babka's law enforcement certification for four years. Babka will be able to reapply for POST certification in 2015.
But because of how long Babka will have been out of law enforcement by that time, the 48-year-old former South Salt Lake police chief and Salt Lake County undersheriff will be required to go through the POST Academy again.
Babka, who had been charged with two felony counts of misusing public funds for using his city-issued credit card to put $120 worth of gas in his personal vehicle, took a plea in abeyance in May to two reduced charges of attempted misuse of public funds, both class A misdemeanors. Under the plea deal, the charges will be dismissed if Babka stays out of trouble for a year and complies with the terms of his sentence.
He resigned from the Cottonwood Heights Police Department in January.
Babka addressed members of the POST Council before they voted. Like he did during his court sentencing, Babka apologized to the law enforcement community for bringing a "blackness" over it because of his actions.
He also asked the council for some mercy on his sanction and requested an 18-month suspension. He said he would like to return to law enforcement and serve the community and felt positive that an agency would hire him.
"There are folks who are willing to take the chance on me," he said.
The 19-year law enforcement veteran also noted that he was just one year away from being eligible for retirement benefits and was eager to reapply for a law enforcement job so he could "move on" from the entire situation.
The POST Council, however, said that the recommended four year suspension was already a compromise and that Babka could have easily had his POST certification revoked altogether.
Prior to voting, council members discussed whether Babka should receive a lighter sentence. Council member and Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said even though Babka did not hold an administrative position at the time of his crime, everyone in the community was well aware of his prior leadership roles.
"I think we should hold ourselves to a much higher standard," he said of police chiefs and sheriffs over their rank and file.
The board voted 9-to-3 to give Babka the recommended four year suspension.
• The POST Council took action on seven other law enforcers Monday, including former Perry Police Chief Michael Jones in Box Elder County. In December 2010, Jones was placed on paid administrative leave after officers say he verbally abused and threatened employees of a Harrisville Walmart during a cursing-filled tirade.
The chief resigned in June. POST officials originally recommended a six-month suspension of Jones' certification. But after again pointing out that police chiefs and sheriffs are held to a higher standard, the POST Council on Monday voted to increase Jones' suspension to a full year.
The POST Council voted to revoke the certifications of three law enforcers, while four others voluntarily relinquished their certifications.
Among the three others who had their certifications revoked after POST voted:
• Weber County sheriff's deputy Michael Lobato, accused of pointing a gun at someone during a moment of anger and then lying about it.
• Department of Corrections officer Ian Salter, accused of illegally obtaining prescription medication.
• St. George police officer Robert Trani who admitted to using cocaine and having an alcohol problem, according to POST.