UPDATE: Phillip Hill’s attorney Joe Filicetti says Hill has been placed on administrative leave with pay.
Remember that Chubbuck police officer who allegedly pointed a gun at a guy in a Pocatello fight back in November? The one who seemed to be on vacation forever? Well Pocatello Police have finally caved and charged the officer, Phillip Hill, with one misdemeanor count of aiming a firearm at others. That seems very fair! After all, when you point a gun at people, regardless of your occupation, you deserve to be charged with a crime, just like all the rest of us.
Now, let’s go to the Chubbuck Police Department who will surely turn around and hand Hill some kind of suspension, even perhaps a temporary one, based on his being officially charged with pointing a gun at people. Chubbuck Chief Randy Severe released a separate press release that highlighted the department’s plans:
The administrative review of this matter and the imposition of discipline, if any, are deemed to be a confidential personnel issue under Idaho Law and will be handled internally by the Chubbuck Police Department. The Chubbuck Police Department demands the highest professional conduct from its officers, whether they are on or off duty. This expectation certainly includes compliance with the laws of the State of Idaho.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a stickler here, but usually when a police department is going to suspend an officer, they do so publicly, if for nothing else to make sure the public knows that the department holds its officers at high standards and is not afraid to discipline those who break the laws. Severe (a name with a twist of irony), however, just sort of says “Don’t worry about it, we’ll handle this and not tell anybody what the results are.” The bit about expecting officers to comply with laws seems to suggest that Hill will be suspended, or at very least slapped on the wrist, but no specifics are actually mentioned.
Of course, it is state law that the department doesn’t have to tell us anything if they don’t want to. But people have a certain expectation of transparency in these situations. About two weeks ago, Soda Springs officer Anthony Stuckey was suspended after being arrested for a domestic violence incident. Last January Pocatello Police suspended an officer over his own domestic violence case. While this isn’t a domestic violence case and the charge was just a misdemeanor (it’s unclear how exactly the law is different in these instances), the nonspecific response is sure to elicit cries of corruption from some in the community. At very least this seems to be a terrible PR move for the CPD.
If Hill really is being treated like any other guy who would be charged with a misdemeanor count of aiming a gun at people, the law states he should be slapped with a fine of $5 to $1,000. That decision is in the hands of the Pocatello City Attorney’s Office and the judicial system. But when it comes to the CPD’s disciplinary actions, we’ll probably never know what happens to Hill.