BY REBECCA PALMER
BOUNTIFUL — In response to a hemorrhaging of experienced officers to other local police departments, the Bountiful City Council created a new assistant chief position in its department on Tuesday.
Lt. Ed Biehler, a 17-year veteran on the force, will be appointed to the position. He had been considering a move to another department in the county to fulfill more of a leadership role, and told his boss about it. Biehler was surprised to learn that his Chief Tom Ross had already been in discussions with city administrators about creating the new position for him to fill.
“As we move forward, it is important to have people at the table who, just by the nature of their title, have a little more clout,” Ross told the city council when proposing the change. “It takes years to develop someone such as Ed (Biehler), and then to lose them after 17 years is unfortunate,” he later added.
Other structural changes to the department will include elimination of a captain in the corporal position and the addition of a lieutenant in the patrol division, which has the greatest quantity of new officers. They need guidance and mentorship, Ross said, and appointing new leaders will allow for more of that.
The changes will cost $15,000 over the next eight months, but the cost will be covered without a budget increase.
Biehler has committed verbally to staying for at least five years.
Biehler stood straight and proud, but his face betrayed strong emotion and near-overwhelming thankfulness during the meeting.
“I know this is an awesome opportunity for me and I don’t take it lightly,” he said.
Biehler told about a time when he didn’t get a promotion he wanted. At the time, his father told him that anytime he felt that way, he should remember that he could always dig his trench of commitment wider, deeper and longer. Biehler was so inspired by the saying that he posted it in his office.
“I commit to you that I don’t know if I can, but I will try to dig my trench wider, deeper and longer in my commitment to Bountiful City,” he told the elected officials.
In August, Bountiful Police Sgt. Jeff Jolley left the force to become a chief in Oregon. Within weeks, Lt. Sol Oberg left to take the helm for the Kaysville City force.
The good reputation of the Bountiful police force has its pitfalls, Mayor Joe Johnson said.
“Because of that tradition, a lot of people have come in and wanted to see how we do things, but also wanted to take our officers for their own forces,” he said. “We don’t want to lose all the old traditions. We want to keep some to filter down to the young officers.”