Lt. Mike Empey was sworn in Monday morning as Ogden's new police chief, replacing Chief Joe Ritchie who was forced to resign last month.
The new chief, 43, has been on the force for about 20 years. He started with the Ogden Police Department in July 1971 as an officer, and he was promoted to sergeant in 1981. Two years later he became a duty lieutenant.Empey was selected by City Manager Robert Hunter, who has the power to hire and fire department heads. Ritchie submitted his letter of resignation April 12 after serving 16 years as chief.
Ritchie has agreed not to sue the city or appeal his dismissal. In return, the city will make a severance payment to Ritchie and has given him a letter of recommendation in his search for a new job.
Ritchie and city officials declined to specify how much severance he will receive. City Attorney Norm Ashton said the sum is in line with what other department heads receive after leaving city employment.
Ritchie said he still doesn't know why Hunter demanded his resignation. He agreed to the settlement because he wants to move ahead and find a new job.
His attorney, Jean Robert Babilis, said he believes Hunter wanted a new direction for the department, where one-third of the employees are eligible for retirement.
In a brief speech Monday, Hunter said he selected Empey from among 14 candidates. "They (candidates) were very professional," said Hunter. "My decision was very, very difficult."
Hunter said he rode and talked with police officers and other employees from the county attorney's and sheriff's departments to help with his decision.
The city manager also said he talked to other police chief applicants, who said they would support Empey as their new chief. "I wanted to be sure I picked the right person," Hunter said.
Empey will supervise 125 employees and 40 reserve police officers.
Empey lives in Riverdale and is a native of St. George. He has earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Brigham Young University.
"I'm a little bit overwhelmed," said the new chief. "I look at it as a beginning. . .There are changes coming."
Empey told a small gathering assembled at his swearing-in ceremony that he understands the problems facing the department and will get input from his officers and city manager before implementing any changes.
Acting Chief Robert Warren told Empey he is in charge of an excellent police department.
"You've got a big job ahead of you," said Warren, who will now retire from the force. "Take hold of it now and get the job done."
Hunter will lose his power to hire and fire come January 1992 when a full-time mayor will take over the duties of city manager.
Currently, the mayoral office is a part-time position, but voters last year changed the city charter, and residents will elect a full-time mayor during this year's November general election.
Mayor Scott Sneddon has announced he will seek that office.