Search for chief may set new tone for police department, West Valley mayor says
Manager decries 'false accusations,' but admits police have room to improve
Detective Shaun Cowley, one of the officers who shot Willard, is also the focus of another investigation by Gill. Cowley was the lead investigator in 19 criminal cases, mostly drug-related, that Gill recently dismissed because of credibility issues.
Winder said Wednesday he is confident the police department is "doing a great job," but an upcoming 60-day search for a new police chief for the department will be a "great opportunity to take a fresh look at the department."
The top police job will be posted beginning in April. He expects to have it filled by the end of summer.
Former Police Chief Thayle "Buzz" Nielsen retired in early March after 33 years of service, citing extensive surgery and a need for time to recuperate.
Pyle said problems within the department may have been aggravated by Nielsen's long-term health issues, but said the former chief had a "long and storied, as well as dedicated career" with the city.
On Tuesday, Winder asked the City Council to consider revamping efficiencies of the force's independent Professional Standards Review Board, which he said serves as the "third-party eyes and ears of the people." He said it is critical that the public has trust in law enforcement.
"I fear the pendulum has swung too far to being close-lipped and secret," he said. "We need to move cases along as quickly as possible."
Agency trust has deteriorated somewhat since the beginning of the complex case involving missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell, who was last seen in Dec. 6, 2009. Little information about the case has been released from West Valley City, with most information coming from investigators in Washington state, where Josh Powell murdered his two sons and killed himself.
Winder said the Powell case will be "winding down" in the coming months. "There are only so many leads you can pursue until you hit dead end," he said, adding that his police force is "close" to releasing more information about the case to the public.
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