TAYLORSVILLE — The Unified Police Department's newest precinct has a new chief.
Tracy Wyant, most recently a lieutenant and division commander of patrol operations for the Taylorsville Police Department, was recommended by Mayor Russ Wall and unanimously approved Wednesday by the City Council as chief of UPD's Taylorsville precinct.
"I am excited about the opportunity to move the new Taylorsville UPD precinct in a proactive direction," Wyant said.
Wyant has spent most of his 15-year law enforcement career in Taylorsville, first as a member of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and then with the city police department when it was formed in April 2005. His duties have included managing personnel in patrol, investigations, specialty and administrative assignments.
Now, as Taylorsville transitions from a city department to a member of UPD's consolidated force, city leaders say Wyant is the right man to lead the charge.
"He was born and raised in Taylorsville and he's worked in nearly every aspect of law enforcement in our city — from drugs to traffic to supervisor to supervising supervisors," Wall said. "I believe he's uniquely qualified for this position in this transition."
Taylorsville officially joined UPD on July 1, with city leaders and law enforcement officials citing an opportunity to save money while providing same-level or better police service to residents.
Wyant said the transition has gone smoothly, in part because UPD went through a similar process last year with Midvale.
"Anytime people experience a change, it creates some uncertainty and some level of anxiety and stress for them," the new chief said. "Moving forward has certainly created some of that for the officers and personnel from the police department. However, I have to say, the benefits have outweighed the negatives and will continue to do so."
City officials said Wyant emerged as the top choice among a field of five candidates who applied for the post — a position for which only officers with the rank of lieutenant or higher and five-plus years management experience can apply.
Wyant's police experience in Taylorsville and his involvement in the community set him apart from the other candidates, Wall said.
"He knows the city. He knows the elected officials. He knows the businesses," the mayor said. "He's a guy who loves the city of Taylorsville."
Neither Taylorsville Police Chief Del Craig nor assistant chief Wayne Dial applied for the position, city and UPD officials said.
Craig, who was hired as chief in August 2006, had been a supporter of the city police department joining UPD, even though it meant he would have to reapply for his job.
In May, Craig told the Deseret News that "ideally" he wanted to remain in Taylorsville as the precinct chief. City officials said he has taken another position within UPD.
Craig was honored for his service and presented with a plaque from Wall during Wednesday's meeting.
"We appreciate his service to the city," Wall said of Craig when presenting the award. "He's done a great job for our city. I'm very proud to call him my friend, and I thank him for his service."
Craig then took a moment to thank city leaders, residents and law enforcement colleagues for the opportunity to serve as chief.
"Many of our officers gave a lot of effort, time and energy, sometimes compensated and sometimes not compensated, to get this police department off the ground and running," he said. "They've done a fine job."
Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said Craig joins UPD as an emeritus captain with his current salary. Dial moves to UPD as a lieutenant, Hoyal said.
Qualified candidates for precinct chief interviewed with a three-person committee made up of City Administrator John Inch Morgan, a chief deputy of law enforcement with UPD and a Taylorsville resident. From that pool of five candidates, two advanced to interview with the mayor.
As precinct chief, Wyant will manage more than 50 law enforcement officers and sergeants in the response, coordination and investigation of complex crimes in Taylorsville, according to a city news release.
Wyant received an honors Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice administration and psychology from Columbia College in Salt Lake City. He enjoys coaching basketball, hunting and fishing in his spare time.
Also Wednesday, the two K-9 dogs from the Taylorsville Police Department retired as part of the city's partnership with UPD.
The two Belgian Malinois dogs, Joe and Hutch, served for four and three years in Taylorsville, respectively. The dogs were declared as surplus by the City Council and allowed to become pets for their handlers, officers Jeff Sanderson and Jake Elsasser.