WOODS CROSS—Police Chief Greg Butler quietly goes about his job trying to make things better. Not just in his little corner of the world, but everywhere. So it’s no surprise that Butler was recently named Chief of the Year-Small Agency by the Utah Chiefs of Police Association and Best of State Community Development Public Safety Officer.
“It was a very nice surprise,” said Butler. “I’m just smart enough to hire people who are brighter and smarter than me who make me look good. I’m being recognized for what they do.”
Woods Cross Mayor Rick Earnshaw nominated Butler for the Chief of the Year award.
“We are a small department with fewer than 30 sworn officers,” Earnshaw said in his letter to the committee. “When our previous Chief of several years decided to retire five years ago, we as Mayor and City Council set out to hire a new chief that would be able to come in and fill some pretty big shoes; but at the same time be able to change the culture, improve morale, engage the citizens and bring our department into the 21st century.”
Chief Butler has succeeded in all aspects of those challenges, Earnshaw said. “He has created a healthy culture based on trust and accountability, not only in his department, but in the community as well.”
Butler has instigated several programs in the department but two very successful ones have been the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) and the Davis County Citizens Police Academy (CPA).
The Citizens Academy was named the Nation’s best CPA two years ago and hosted the 2016 National Convention in Utah. It is designed to build trust and respect between the police department and residents by educating them on how local law enforcement functions. More than 300 Davis County residents have graduated from the academy since its inception.
Law enforcement uses the LAP as a tool to identify domestic violence victims who are at a greater risk of being murdered by an intimate partner. Butler has helped train more than 50 Utah Law Enforcement agencies and service providers on how to use it.
“Davis County is the first county in Utah where every department is using the LAP screening,” said Butler. “It helps us determine high danger situations with domestic violence victims.”
Butler partnered with Safe Harbor Crisis Center in 2012 to implement the LAP. “The very first LAP screen performed by WXPD supported an increased awareness for a survivor regarding her safety and that of her children’s,” said Kendra Wyckoff, Executive Director for Safe Harbor. “The increased awareness and connection to services equipped her with better information about her safety and risk. Chief Butler has worked diligently to support efforts to implement the LAP in Woods Cross City, Davis County and the State of Utah.”
Woods Cross Police Sgt. Chris Hoffman and crime prevention/records clerk Stephanie Gonzales both nominated Butler for the Best of State award.
“Knowing what a humble guy he is we knew he wouldn’t toot his own horn,” she said. “He does things to make us look good and helps us excel at being who we are. Some community’s chiefs want things done their way. He sets the bar of excellence and allows us to achieve the things we can. He opens the door and allows us to sail through.”
“I’ve worked with the chief for a lot of years and he’s always interested in what’s new in law enforcement,” said Hoffman. “If he sees something he thinks will work he doesn’t hesitate to implement it. He’s a good guy – I’m glad he’s my boss.”
Hoffman said Butler has made a big effort to train all of the officers on how to handle mental health issues when responding to a call.
“A lot of times the response is to go in there and deal with it now,” he said. “But that may not always be the best response. Maybe we need to give them some space. If you push an incident, you might make matters worse. Stepping back might be a better option.”
Butler has developed a door hanger with resources and crisis information that officers can leave if no one is in immediate danger.
Butler got the bug for police work from his grandfather who was an officer in San Francisco. He has been in law enforcement for 30 years, almost six years with Woods Cross.
“I’m grateful for a supportive council who has backed us up in doing these things,” said Butler. “I believe in empowering people to spread their wings and to do their best to rise to the occasion. This beats working for a living. It’s not an office job where I’m stuck behind a desk. It’s fun every day.”