DRAPER — In March, Draper Police Chief Chief Bryan Roberts was recognized by the City Council for being named Chief of the Year for a midsized agency by the Utah Police Chiefs Association.
On Tuesday night, the council voted to fire him.
By a vote of 4-0, with one councilwoman abstaining, the City Council approved a resolution "terminating the employment" of Roberts. The resolution noted that Roberts, who has been Draper's chief since 2012, "is an at-will employee subject to termination with or without cause at any time" and "the Draper City Council finds it is in the best interest of the city to terminate Bryan Roberts’ employment, without cause."
Roberts termination was effective immediately.
"Basically, they decided it was time to make a change. The mayor and council members appreciate his work and wish him well," said Draper spokeswoman Meridene Alexander.
No specific reason for Roberts' firing was given on Wednesday. But Councilman Jeff Stenquist said the council "did come to a conclusion that we had no choice and needed to go in a different direction."
“There were some activities going on that caused him to lose the confidence of not only the council and the mayor and city manager, but also of his department,” Stenquist said, but he declined to elaborate. He noted, however, that Roberts was not engaging in any illegal activity or harassment.
"You know, I don’t want to get into the details, but we just felt like we needed to make a change, that we felt like he could no longer function in his role,” Stenquist said.
When pressed further as to why more details weren't being released, Stenquist replied that he wants the firing to be as “amicable” as possible.
"I just don’t think it’s necessary to go into more detail than that publicly. There’s a lot of things that Chief Roberts has done well for the city. I’ve enjoyed working with him and I wish him the best in his future endeavors," he said. "I don’t bear any ill will, so I don’t want to air dirty laundry or talk about some of the issues we had.
"I wish him the best of luck and appreciate the good work he’s done during his time here. I really do want to emphasize that," Stenquist continued.
Draper Councilwoman Michele Weeks — who ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Troy Walker during this month’s election — was the councilwoman who abstained from Tuesday night’s vote. She said she abstained for a variety of reasons, but declined to comment further or clarify whether she abstained specifically for the chief’s firing.
"I really think that’s something you’re going to have bring up with the mayor,” she said. "I’m just going to say, 'No comment.' The mayor really speaks for the city right now. The mayor has told me he is the voice for the city and for this issue, so I’m going to let him be the voice of what the city feels.”
But the mayor offered few other details.
Walker reaffirmed that Roberts, as an at-will appointed official, could be terminated without cause for “philosophical reasons.”
“And that’s what (the council) did in this case,” the mayor said.
Walker also reiterated that there wasn’t “some sort of misconduct or misbehavior” that led to his firing.
“It had nothing to do with anything like that,” the mayor said. “It was really a philosophical change. His vision for the future of police in Draper was not the council’s vision going forward.
“He did a good job, worked for us for five years and did some good things that made our department better,” Walker added. “I don’t have any ill will toward him and neither does the council. They just wanted to go in a different direction.”
A spokesman for the police department referred all calls to the city.
Roberts came to Utah after a 26-year law enforcement career in California. When he was named Chief of the Year a few months ago, the city issued a statement praising Roberts for being "innovative and progressive."4 comments on this story
The chief spearheaded a program training officers to peacefully de-escalate encounters with the public, and another to respond to calls in a fair and impartial way, based on tactics from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, among other organizations.
Roberts also started a Communities that Care program to cut down on crime and substance abuse among children and teens.
He was also a vice president for the Utah Chiefs of Police Association.
Deputy Chief John Eining was appointed as interim chief while the city searches for a replacement for Roberts.