The Times-Independent

Embattled MPD Chief Edge out under Family Medical Leave ActFree Access

Moab Police Chief Bret Edge will be off the job for the foreseeable future for reasons not yet fully explained.

Moab Police Chief Bret Edge. File photo

Mayor Emily Niehaus said Edge took federal Family Medical Leave Act time today but declined to answer questions related to recent controversies involving the police department — such as the Aug. 12 stop of the now-dead Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, the now-missing Brian Laundrie, whom police want to question regarding Petito’s death. Her body was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sept. 19.

Moab Police stopped the pair as they entered Arches National Park regarding a 911 call minutes earlier about domestic violence. The officers opted not to arrest either party and determined Petito was the primary aggressor. Both she and Laundrie showed visible, minor injuries during the arrest.

The officers separated the pair for the night, and the couple eventually left together for Salt Lake City. Laundrie returned home without her on Sept. 1. He has since gone missing from his parents’ home in Florida.

The Moab Police Department has come under intense criticism for the way it handled the incident, with some pundits suggesting Petito might be alive today had police arrested either one or both that day.

Prior to the scrutiny over its handling of the high-profile police stop, Seventh Judicial District Judge Don Torgerson and Grand County Justice Court Judge Danalee Welch said Moab Police officers have an “institutional” problem with body camera misuse. Torgerson said the department lacked “quality oversight” and warned he would likely dismiss future cases should the problem not be remedied.

When asked for comment about the judges’ comments, Edge told The Times-Independent there were no body camera issues at the department.

The Times-Independent asked Niehaus the following questions regarding Edge’s voluntary leave of absence. Did Edge decide to take family leave or was that decision made for him? If so, is his leave related to recent controversies at the department?

Did he take family leave because he had no time left for vacation, sick days or other paid off days?

Is he out indefinitely, or is there a return date?

Niehaus said the law precluded her from answering the questions.

This is a developing story.