SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Sergeant Tyler Ackerman polices the police. If a member of the Unified Police Department is accused of major misconduct they’ll wind up face to face with him as he works to figure exactly what happened..and why.
Sgt. Ackerman’s file cabinet holds thousands of documents, each representing evidence that could exonerate an officer…or lead to his or her suspension, demotion or termination. It’s not exactly what he pictured himself doing when he went into law enforcement 13 years ago.
“I thought maybe I’ll go do something like you see in the movies, something like narcotics or go into the gang unit or something of that nature,” Sgt. Ackerman told Behind the Badge. “I never specifically pictured myself in the Internal Affairs Unit.”
Now after years working in the Salt Lake County Jail as a Corrections Officer and on the streets as a Patrol Officer and Fraud Detective, he uses that experience to evaluate the actions of his colleagues, such as their split second use-of-force decisions.
“I’ve dealt with those situations,” he said. “I have had to use force on occasions and I understand what I needed to do to successfully utilize force at the lowest level possible to put a situation in control so when I look at what an officer is doing at a non-biased third party level it helps me understand if what they did was necessary or if it was not necessary.”
Sgt. Ackerman conducts numerous interviews and carefully reviews body camera video that’s used to make a determination. He’s adamant that the public knows nothing is just swept under the rug.
“No we do not just cover for our own because that ruins the job that I have,” he said. “It ruins the reputation that I have helped build with our community so absolutely not. We do not cover for our officers…The most frustrating thing for a good police officer is a police officer who does not follow the policies, who does not follow the rules…because when there is a bad police officer or a police officer who is not following the rules, they can come right in and tarnish that relationship that we’ve taken so long to build with the public.”
He says he cringes when he sees recordings of alleged officer misconduct anywhere around the nation.
“It’s extremely upsetting because even though something happens on the other side of the country, it reflects upon us here in Utah and so it has that same effect,” Sgt. Ackerman said. “It makes me equally upset whether or not it’s an officer here or an officer there. At least when it’s an officer here there’s some sort of control I have to try and make it right. It’s even more frustrating when it’s somewhere across the country because it still has that negative effect here I just don’t have the control to fix something that’s out of our reach.”
In an era of protest and calls for reform, Sgt. Ackerman’s job is crucial to regaining the public’s confidence
“We have the bar raised high here and we have very good officers because we have them accountable,” he explained. “To hold every officer accountable if they do something wrong. It’s the only way to fix our problems.
Sgt. Ackerman admitted that he wishes there wasn’t even a need for his job or his department but until every officer follows every single policy he’ll be on the case, keeping a close eye on the men and women sworn to serve and protect all of us.
MORE BEHIND THE BADGE:
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- Behind the Badge: UPD Internal Affairs Sergeant Tyler Ackerman polices the police
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