Ex Mantua Police Chief speaks out after termination

Local News

MANTUA, Utah (ABC4) – “Do you feel you got cheated?” asks ABC4’s Jordan Verdadeiro.

“100%” says Castro, “And it’s from a select few, it just so happens they are in certain positions.”

The previous Mantua Police Chief, Michael Castro, spoke to ABC4’s Jordan Verdadeiro this morning in defense of his probation and termination letters signed by the Mayor of Mantua last month.

This comes after Castro was terminated in late March and the rest of the officers on the force quit.

Castro joined the Mantua Police Department as their chief in July of 2020.

“I immediately fell in love with the town, it was beautiful, the residents were very, very nice and welcoming,” says Castro.

Just a few months later, Castro jumped into freezing water to save a man who fell through the Mantua Reservoir while ice fishing and got an award.

“Mayor Johnson wrote a nice letter of recommendation to nominate me for the Small Agency Division Police Chief of the Year for the State of Utah under the Utah Chief of Police Association,” says Castro.

Castro says he quickly noticed Mantua didn’t have a proper structure in place to follow state and federal mandates.

“The problem is, it costs money and this isn’t something that was budgeted for. For whatever reason, the budget was already put together for this year, prior to me taking this position…The majority of our budget has always been sustained with citations,” says Castro.

Castro says Mayor Michael Johnson asked him to issue more citations; that’s where the disagreements with the mayor and town began.

“My officers were doing a lot of traffic enforcement, a lot of traffic stops, but not a lot of citations, so that was a problem that I was running into with the town,” says Castro.

Castro says he received a probation letter from Johnson stating 14 points, including interactions with locals, which Castro says is inaccurate and skewed, so he refused to sign.

“The mayor got very angry with me and told me that I was working under the authority of him and that’s why I have the job and I told him yeah, that’s correct, but what you ask me to do has to be legal,” says Castro.

Jordan Verdadeiro called Mayor Johnson, who says he doesn’t have a comment.

“It’s just sad that they, that somebody can, in that position of power, they can make such a blatant lie,” says Castro.

We also spoke to several Mantua residents who didn’t want to go on camera for fear of retribution, but say they side with Castro. One local wrote a note stating, “The police was always good to us and we never had any problems with them. We still wish they were around.”

Castro says he hopes the town works toward ethics with it’s growing population.

“I’d like to ask that these individuals step down from their positions, and let other people who want to get into those positions and do the right thing step in,” says Castro.

Mantua currently doesn’t have any known officers on duty. Castro is currently seeking employment with another department, but says he wants to move forward.

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