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The City Journals

One year in review of Unified Police Department Millcreek’s Precinct

Dec 19, 2019 11:31AM ● By Kirk Bradford

Domestic violence investigative team for Millcreek Precinct. Det. Rawson, Det. Willie, Victim Advocate Kohl, and Sgt. Mays. (UPD Millcreek Division)

By Kirk Bradford | [email protected]

The Millcreek police precinct has slowly started to grow, but most of the time these officers are only noted in news stories, crime, or perhaps you noticed their flashing blue and red lights in your rear-view mirror. The City Journals looked over the past year to give some insight into the Unified Police Department’s Millcreek Precinct and the officers behind the wheel of those new Ford Expeditions, F-150s, Tauruses and Camrys throughout 2019. There have been many instances of Millcreek officers going above and beyond in serving the community and making the town a little safer and more secure with each watch. 

While the City Journals participated in Tactical Medical Care, many officers described getting ready to start a shift by stopping being "you" and becoming "officer you" as they strap on gear like a ballistic vest, gun and police uniform. They kiss their kids and spouses goodbye and start their shifts focusing on any new issues, like any be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) alerts that have popped up since their last shift. 

They check their patrol car, gear and all materials needed for the day. They radio the local dispatch that they are"10-8," in service and active on duty. They pull the first vehicle over for the day and cautiously head over to make contact. A handful of officers agreed the first one of the day is usually difficult. The subconscious thought that this will be their last traffic stop ever is not an irrational fear. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, “More law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in the United States in 2018 than in 2017, reversing a one-year decline.”

They may next be called into a serious head-on collision crash where they witness sights and smells that can last a lifetime. After providing medical care until an ambulance and EMTs arrive, they are told one of the passengers was mortally wounded. In some cases they are required to notify the next of kin. They deal with enormous amounts of tedious paper work. They next move on to a stolen car, perhaps a robbery, then a domestic violence disturbance.  

Detective Jared Nichols explained the recent monthly crime totals. He said 2,912 calls made for service resulted in 1,170 cases. “They were about the same as August. There were 41 cases of assault, 15 burglaries, 75 family offenses, 1 kidnapping, 121 cases of larceny, 5 robberies, 6 sexual offense cases,” Nichols said. That is quite a large number of criminal issues the department addresses every single month as they work hard to bring those numbers down. 

The Millcreek Police Department employs one chief, one lieutenant, and eight sergeants who are in charge of supervising law enforcement operations in Millcreek City. The precinct currently has 25 patrol officers, three full-time traffic officers, seven street crime detectives and four community crime suppression units. Thirteen detectives, two community-oriented policing detectives, four school resource officers, a full-time victim advocate and one secretary work the Millcreek jurisdiction.

Millcreek also has one unit specifically set up to address domestic violence. They provide services to victims of the crimes before, during and after the event. There are four members in the Millcreek Precinct domestic violence unit, two detectives, a victim advocate and a detective sergeant who supervises the unit as a whole. 

Detective Steve Rawson started with the U of U Police November 2007. Rawson worked five years in patrol and three years in investigations. He was on the behavioral intervention team and was trained on forensic interview techniques. Rawson came to Unified Police in November 2015. He worked Kearns and Magna for 18 months before being assigned to special operations, canyon patrol and rescue division. After another 18 months of serving in special ops, he transferred to Millcreek’s street crimes unit where he has served as the domestic violence detective.

Detective Brittni Willie has been with the UPD for three years. She began as a dispatcher, then transferred to patrol in June 2017 working in Taylorsville. While there, she was trained to handle domestic violence cases. She moved from patrol to investigations a few months ago and has been actively working on all types of domestic violence criminal cases.

Tessa Kohl is the victim advocate assigned to Millcreek City. Kohl has advocated for victims for nearly two decades. Her experience includes working with victims of all types of violent crimes. Kohl’s role involves giving victims a safe foundation to be heard and validated using the criminal justice system. For those experiencing domestic violence issues, she is available at the Millcreek Precinct by phone at (385) 468-9627.

Sergeant Michael Mays has served as a police officer with the UPD for over 16 years. During his career he has served in patrol and investigations. He currently serves as the Millcreek Precinct investigations sergeant.

The patrol operations unit works on solving crimes, traffic investigations, traffic problems, speeding, drugs/alcohol related activity and crime reduction as the priority of the community. Preventing traffic accidents and congestion, while aggressively enforcing speed compliance, was a successful task throughout the year. It was accomplished by a traffic enforcement team and the placement of "speed limit trailers" that show your current speed near trouble zones. They worked as an excellent speed-reducing tool.

Throughout the year officers made numerous arrests of suspects involved in continuous criminal activities. In one example, they developed crime patterns coordinating with other detectives about vehicle and residential burglaries, which led them to solve more crimes and put suspects in jail. Numerous drug investigations have resulted in arrests, assisting in removing illegal drugs from Millcreek streets, which are investigated by the investigations division and the community crime suppression unit.

Two UPD officers have taken to social media to let the community get to know them a little better through the “I’m a Police Officer” page.

 Officer Michael Erickson is a motors officer with UPD, married to a UPD officer (Kaley Erickson) and has five kids. 

“I didn’t grow up thinking I would be a police officer although helping people seemed to be something I was drawn to,” Erickson writes in his post. 

Erickson has been a police officer for eight years, first working with Granite School District before joining UPD. 

“I’ve stood by caskets guarding the body of those who have passed; witnessed moms, dads, wives, and siblings say their last goodbyes,” he wrote. “I’ve escorted the Vice President of the United States, ridden in countless parades, volunteered for charity rides, and all I can think is, I really do have the best job in the world.”

Officer Kevin Mallory joined UPD in 2016, having been an officer since 2006. Mallory grew up in Washington state surrounded by the law enforcement world. His mom was a secretary for the police, his scout leader’s husband was a police officer and he had friends in law enforcement, Mallory wrote. 

Mallory didn’t give much thought to law enforcement until one day when he saw a state trooper on a traffic stop  along Interstate-5 from Seattle to Tacoma. 

“Something struck me when I saw that trooper on the side of the road,” Mallory wrote. “That was the moment when all the memories of my childhood years surfaced, and I made the decision to be a police officer. I knew being a police officer was what I always wanted to be, and now it was time to do it.”

Once per month throughout the year, a Millcreek officer is selected as Officer of the Month for a variety of actions, behaviors and decisions. In January 2019, Police Chief Steve DeBry awarded Officer Andrew Jensen Officer of the Month. Jensen conducted proactive policing that led to a traffic stop where he identified a passenger with felony arrest warrants. He seized narcotics while creating rapport with the suspect. In doing so, he was able to get the suspect to provide information on other cases. The Citizens Advisory Board for UPD also presented Jensen with a gift.

In February 2019, DeBry informed the City Council and others about the mental health unit and the great work they do. He introduced Sergeant Jody Sampson to the council. Sampson said, “The mental health unit was started 18 months ago following the model of the Los Angeles Police Department. We work as a secondary unit and have had 800 outreaches since November 2017, and 3,540 mental health related calls, and that doesn’t even include the welfare checks or domestic calls.” The unit does in-depth follow-ups. The unit has one full-time detective, eight secondary officers and one licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

Councilmember Bev Uipi asked how one social worker can handle all of those calls. Sampson said she prioritizes calls and does research on cases she sends the LCSW. The LCSW is employed by the U of U and works with Unified Police on a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will end this summer. Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said as a member of the Unified Police Department Board, he will support refunding the MOU. 

In March 2019, DeBry presented Detective Doug Lambert the award for Officer of the Month for February. Lambert worked on and cleared multilevel and multistate fraud cases. Silvestrini praised his work saying, “Detective Lambert has worked tirelessly on identity theft crimes and was proactive in assisting getting legislation on identify theft passed in the State Legislature in 2018.” Silvestrini thanked Lambert and said he was a credit to the profession and the Millcreek Precinct. 

In April 2019, DeBry introduced Detective Jordan Schmidt as Officer of the Month for March. Schmidt conducted a successful drug trafficking investigation. The dealer was selling over a pound of methamphetamine every week in the Salt Lake County area. Schmidt also was detailed on the series “Behind the Badge” by ABC News. 

In May 2019, there was a special awards presentation. The first was Officer Justin Zabriskie, who helped deliver a baby without complications. Silvestrini said, “He exemplified values of the UPD.” Silvestrini also commended Officer Jeff Nelson and said, “He was awarded a Sheriff’s Star because he and two others played a crucial role in stopping an armed burglary.” Nelson was deployed by then in Afghanistan for military service and unable to attend the meeting. 

Officer Easton Story was the Officer of the Month for April. Mitchell read a letter to the council from a grateful citizen who appreciated the wellness check Story conducted. Silvestrini said the citation written by a resident is what Millcreek wants to see. The Citizens Advisory Board also presented Story with a gift.

In June 2019, DeBry presented Detective Jacob Werner as the Officer of the Month for May 2019. Werner assisted a man who was about to jump off an I-15 bridge. The man was later able to receive treatment. The Citizens Advisory Board gave Werner an award. Sgt. Mike Mays was also presented with the Veteran of Foreign Wars National Law Enforcement Award. 

In July 2019, DeBry presented Officer Tiffany Parker as Officer of the Month for June 2019. Parker solved three burglary cases and arrested two suspects. The Citizens Advisory Board presented Parker with a gift.

In August 2019, Mays announced Officer Victor Shaw as Officer of the Month for July 2019. Shaw successfully completed a detailed investigation of an assault which resulted in charges filed. The Citizens Advisory Board gave Shaw a gift.

In September 2019, Brandy Farms with the Citizens Advisory Board recognized Detective Gary Evans for his work. She read a statement from the CAB and offered Evans a gift. Evans followed up on a stolen vehicle case where the stolen car contained Native American artifacts that were irreplaceable. The suspect was arrested, and Evans questioned the suspect about the property in the car. After serving a warrant he was able to locate the items at a storage unit. He recovered nearly all of the stolen property.

In October 2019, DeBry announced Jensen as Officer of the Month for September 2019, making this his second award this year. Jensen responded to a robbery at Iceberg Drive Inn and apprehended two suspects and recovered stolen goods and other paraphernalia. The Citizens Advisory Board presented Jensen with a gift. Silvestrini thanked Jensen for his service to Millcreek. DeBry said he received a positive memo from the Metro Gang Unit regarding the Millcreek street crimes unit for their attention to detail and thoroughness in investigations. He then presented Nichols with a five-year achievement with Unified Police Department.

In November 2019, Debry announced Detective Robert Walter as Officer of the Month for October 2019. Walters responded to the scene of a shooting and displayed excellent police work and professionalism. 

Police officers are high to a high standard of law. They work to keep communities safe and educated, and train too.  We know from the many news stories that officers put their lives on the line, but some don’t know what goes on in their day-to-day police duties. While every position varies, some officers will sit on the side of a street discouraging speeding drivers or just to bring peace of mind to the communities. Police provide a presence in neighborhoods with crime to help people feel safe. 

On August 5, 2012, a white supremacist entered the gurdwara — or Sikh temple — in the heart of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He shot 10 innocent people before a police bullet took him down. Lieutenant Brian Murphy arrived on the scene first and immediately engaged the gunman. He was shot 15 times. Out of the 15 shots, three hit Murphy's bullet-proof vest. Twelve entered his body. Two bullets are still inside him to this day. A year later, Murphy was approached by a survivor who was inside the temple during the shooting.

"She said, 'How many times were you hit?' Murphy said, ‘15.’ She said, 'Yes, don't you get it? One bullet for every one of us who was hiding inside.’"

It turned out there were exactly 15 people hiding in the pantry of the temple when Murphy had caught the shooter's eye.

Many officers are approachable, friendly and passionate about their job. The next time you see one of your local officers, say hello and get to know them. You never know when they might be the one who makes a difference in your life.