Davis County Sheriff Brant L. Johnson resigned Monday to take a post as deputy public safety commission in the reshaped administration of Gov. Norm Bangerter.
He will be second in command to Bangerter's newly appointed public safety commissioner Douglas Bodrero. Bodrero is the former Cache County sheriff, and Johnson said they have worked together through the state sheriffs association for 10 years.Johnson announced his resignation to the Davis County Commission Monday afternoon and said it is effective Jan. 3, 10 years to the day from when he was sworn in as Davis County sheriff.
Under state law, the Davis County Republican Central Committee will select three names as new sheriff candidates, forwarding them to the County Commission for appointment as interim sheriff until the next election.
Johnson said he is supporting his chief deputy, Harry Jones, for the job.
"I have told the party and I hope they will move with all due haste so they can name a new sheriff at the same time my resignation is effective. And, I'm supporting Harry Jones for the job 100 percent, so the policies and programs we've put in place over the last 10 years will stay in effect," Johnson said.
The sheriff also said he wants the selection of his replacement done by the current County Commission and before his old political foe William "Dub" Lawrence, the man he defeated for county sheriff 10 years ago, joins the County Commission in January.
Johnson was elected sheriff in 1978 on the Republican ticket, defeating Lawrence, who was a Democrat at the time. Lawrence has since switched parties and was elected to the County Commission in November on the GOP ticket.
Johnson said having Lawrence as a boss was not a factor in his resignation nor are budget cuts, due to take effect in 1989, that will affect his department.
"Having Dub on the commission was not at all a factor in my decision," said Johnson. "The deputy public safety commission job is a good opportunity, too good to pass up.
"I'm leaving reluctantly, especially with the jail project, but Harry (Jones) and Capt. J.R. Hunt have been involved in that project from day one and know as much about it as I do, so it should just go forward," the sheriff said, referring the county's current construction of a new $18 million, 400-bed jail and court complex.
Johnson said he leaves the department in good shape, he believes the best ever, despite the budget cutbacks that will trim 10 full-time jobs from his department.
The cutbacks hurt, Johnson said, but he supports them as being prudent and necessary for the county.
Johnson has been in law enforcement 28 years, joining the Utah Highway Patrol in 1961. He served as a trooper in Davis County for 10 years, then joined the sheriff's department.
Johnson served as chief deputy to then-sheriff William Peters, who lost the sheriff's post to Lawrence in 1974. Peters is now a county commissioner.
During Lawrence's term, Johnson worked briefly as a deputy, then an investigator for the Davis County attorney's office, winning election as sheriff in 1978 and taking office in January 1979.