Sam Penrod, Deseret News
New Provo Police Chief John King, a veteran law enforcer with 30 years of experience, like what he sees so far from his department.

PROVO — He’s been on the job for just a few days, and the new Provo police chief likes what he sees.

"I have shown up to things unannounced, and I have been very impressed with the level of professionalism and dedication of the staff here," Provo Police Chief John King said.

After a nationwide search, King was chosen in November to take over the Provo Police Department after the previous chief, Rick Gregory, resigned to move to Ohio.

A veteran law enforcer with 30 years of experience, King was previously the director of a police academy in Hagerstown, Md., and before that served as police chief in Gaithersburg, Md. He resigned in 2010 to enter the private sector.

King has a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from Marist College in New York, and a Master of Science in criminal justice from the University of Baltimore.

"I was vetted pretty thoroughly, and I have had good conversations with the mayor, and we are on the same page philosophically," he said.

King comes from Maryland and said he has no previous ties to Utah, other than being attracted here by the state's scenic beauty.

His priority, he said, will be on keeping the community involved — including residents and business leaders — in crime prevention.

"It's really (about) engaging the community in problem solving, not only on an officer front; about having geographical responsibility for calls for service; and mainly to form the partnerships the city of Provo is known for anyway," King said.

But he knows serious crime can happen anywhere, even in Provo.

"There is always concern for police chiefs across the country, and the threat of what we term ‘an active shooter,’ that is every community's worst nightmare,” King said. “That was one of the first things I checked when I came here, that we are ready for that.”

With a low crime rate and a city where people do feel safe, King said his focus will be to keep it that way.

"It's a high bar to continue to meet with a high level of safety here, but that is a challenge I am excited about," he said.