Former Mantua chief of police finds hope in Moab

Local News

MOAB, Utah (ABC4) – For months, ABC4 has been following the story of a dispute between the Town of Mantua’s mayor and chief of police. That dispute ended with the mayor firing the chief and then resigning himself. Today, former chief Michael Castro tells ABC4 he’s accepted a new job in Moab, but says some of the leadership in Mantua is keeping him from starting in his new position.

“It’s just one of those very difficult situations,” states Castro. “You just fall in between these cracks. You know, what are you going to do? One day at a time.”

Michael Castro was fired as the Mantua chief of police back on March 25, 2021. Shortly after, he told ABC4 he believed the real reason for his firing was his refusal to follow the mayor’s request to write more speeding tickets.

Since then, Castro has applied to work at as many police departments as possible. He says he had many terrific interviews, but nothing seemed to pan out.

Funds began to run low. He says to stay afloat, he began selling his possesions. He even sold the majority of his gun collection.

After weeks of struggling to find work, Castro says he was offered a position as the assistant chief of police for the Moab Police Department. He accepted the offer and moved south. However, he tells ABC4 that he’s hit another road block to getting back into the work force.

This new struggle, he says, comes after town leaders in Mantua filed a complaint against him in the begining of May. He says the complaint is in relation to the termination meeting he had with town leaders back in March. He admits during the meeting he got angry, but says he didn’t do anything unprofessional. However, he believes town leadership filed the complaint saying his reaction made them feel unsafe. His conduct is now under investigation.

“They said that once the case is worked, then it will be determined whether it needs to go for review with council at P.O.S.T.,” Castro explains. “The next hearing that they have with P.O.S.T. will be in September, so this could be a very long journey at this point.”

P.O.S.T. stands for Peace Officer Standards and Training. It’s part of the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Back on April 26, then mayor Michael Johnson announced he hired Craig Hamer as the new chief of police on the town’s Facebook page. On that same day, Johnson used the town’s Facebook to also announce his resignation, stating: “My hope is that the divisiveness in the town will now stop and healing will begin, and Mantua will once again become the great town we moved into many years ago.”

Last month, ABC4 obtained records from the West Jordan Police Department, which describe nearly a dozen complaints against Hamer during his time as an officer there; citations like making an arrest without probable cause.

Castro says learning about the new chief’s past makes the complaint against him sting that much more. He adds, “I don’t know how they put their head on a pillow at night to be honest with you. I’m very frustrated and I just don’t understand. I’d be very, very bothered if I was them.”

Even though Castro hasn’t started his new job with the Moab Police Department, he says his experience with the officers there has only been positive so far.

ABC4 has reached out to the former mayor and new chief of police for comment multiple times. There has been no response yet.

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