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Heyburn officials ponder police leadership: Chief remains on paid leave

From the November crime report: Murder trial, police officer shot, rape charges series
Heyburn Police Department

The Heyburn Police Department on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.

HEYBURN — Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol remains on paid leave after a Heyburn City Council meeting late Wednesday.

After an hour-long executive session, the Heyburn City Council returned to an open meeting and made no decisions. Executive sessions are closed to the public, but any formal action decided on in the meeting must be made publicly.

The council entered the closed-door meeting under the rule that allows them to consider the evaluation, dismissal or disciplining of or to hear complaints or charges brought against a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent, or public school student.

After the meeting, Heyburn Mayor Dick Galbraith told the Times-News that Bristol, who has been on paid administrative leave since March, remains on leave. Bristol was investigated by Idaho State Police following accusations of changing time cards and altering police reports, among other allegations.

The decision on how to fill the top police department leadership role moving forward rests on Galbraith’s shoulders.

Heyburn’s police chief is appointed by the mayor. Three of four council members must then approve the appointment.

“I have the confidence of the council members,” Galbraith said. “They support me.”

All the possible actions the city can take in the matter were also submitted to the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program for approval, he said.

Police chiefs are city employees, not public officials like elected sheriffs.

“This is a weighty decision and not one I’m taking lightly,” Galbraith said. “Someone’s livelihood is in my hands. I’m still weighing this decision.”

Galbraith has spoken with all the officers except one who is out on medical leave about the leadership issue.

Galbraith intends to make a decision next week.

Bristol underwent an investigation by the Idaho State Police for accusations that he altered 193 employee time cards without employee consent to deny them overtime pay, destroyed his own personnel files, bragged about failing drug tests and altered officers’ reports to increase or diminish charges.

The ISP report was submitted to the Twin Falls County prosecutor’s office for possible criminal charges. No criminal charges were filed.

Bristol maintained his innocence and previously told the Times-News that he had faith the judicial system would work.

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