COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — The mayor and City Council here voted unanimously Tuesday night to appoint Robby Russo as the police chief for its new police department.

The new chief worked with the city during its first two and a half years as a lieutenant with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, with which the new city had contracted. Russo was then transferred by the sheriff's office for disciplinary reasons that were not explained to the city.

The city later learned that the discipline had to do with Russo's facing contradictory orders from the city and the sheriff's office, and apologized for its part in the trouble.

The controversial transfer was part of the impetus for the city creating its own police department, said Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore. The city was also dissatisfied with deputies paid for by the city spending time in other jurisdictions, city leaders said at the time.

Creating the new department could take up to eight months, but the first step was hiring a chief, Cullimore said. The hiring process was not open, but Cullimore said the city is confident it made the right choice.

"This wasn't a rubber stamp," he said. "I was particularly brutal on some things — I asked for a list of people who would probably say bad things."

Russo notified the Sheriff's OfficeDepartment of his new appointment and plans to be sworn in within the next two weeks.

As chief, he plans to work first at creating relationships with surrounding cities, he said. He is also interested in forming a task force to combat a growing problem of fraud in the city.

"I'm humbled by your appointment and your confidence in me," Russo told the council. "I think it is time to move forward."

Later, Russo said he was excited to lead a police department from the ground up.

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