TREMONTON/GARLAND - Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, August 17, 2022
Tremonton City swore in a new police chief Tuesday evening, August 16, during the regular city council meeting, one who is ready to mesh his big city law enforcement experience with the close-knit feel of a smaller department and the “peace” he finds in a community he hopes to make his home.
Meet Tremonton Garland Police Chief Dustin Cordova. Cordova is currently transitioning from the Murray area to Tremonton and brings with him three degrees in criminal justice. He is also an adjunct professor at Weber State University. He comes to the local position after a nearly 15-year career with the Unified Police Department in Salt Lake County.
“I started with the Sheriff’s Department, then worked as a reserve officer with Unified for about two years, and then I was hired on full-time following that,” Cordova said.
Those years in a large department allowed him to develop a multi-faceted knowledge and appreciation for law enforcement.
“The good thing about a large department is I got to do a little bit of everything,” he said. “I was on the bicycle patrol, I was a community-oriented police detective, a burglary detective, a narcotics detective. I was on the SWAT team for a couple of years. From there I was promoted to sergeant, first as a regular patrol sergeant, then to a detective sergeant position.”
He said when he applied for the Tremonton Garland head spot, he was looking to enhance his role as a police officer.
“As far as my career goes, I’ve always wanted to be in a top-level leadership position where I can make positive changes within the organization. Unified is a very large organization and it is hard to get a voice because there are so many chiefs and you’ve got to go through the chain of command, and there are multiple boards. A lot of things are hard to change, or they are very slow to change. Any kind of leadership in a smaller town, you can make decisions that make sense without having to jump through a lot of hoops and I love that. I love to make things better and I love to take on problems and find solutions,” he said.
Add to that the fact that he was ready for a different view of his career choice and the Bear River Valley fit the bill.
“Frankly, I was ready for a change of pace,” he admitted. “Working in Kearns couldn’t be more different from working out here. The peace is nice, the people are really nice. I love how tight the community is and how everybody knows everybody it seems. It makes you feel like you are part of the community more. In Kearns you got that with certain people, but also there is a big population. Some people just hate you because you are a cop. You don’t have that same kind of tight-knit, wholesome feeling that you do in a smaller town.”
The new chief said law enforcement is much more than a profession to him. It is something he had dedicated his life to, due in part to an image he has retained his whole life. He spent his childhood in “the low-income area” of West Valley City.
“I grew up with a single mom, without a dad,” he said. “We saw a lot of crime in our apartment complex. I saw the police all the time and it was rarely for a positive thing.”
But he witnessed what those officers in uniform meant to his mother.
“I always remember seeing my mom be afraid. I also observed that when she was scared, she would get on the phone, and she would call the police. They would show up and she wasn’t scared anymore. At that age, even as a little kid, I made the decision to be that guy that makes my mom not feel afraid anymore. At six years old I decided I wanted to be a cop one day. I stuck to it. It kept me away from drugs, I did well in school, I stayed out of trouble for the most part because I always had that long-term goal to be the person to show up and to make, not only my mom, but other people’s moms feel safe.”
While working with UPD helped him achieve that desire, he sees transitioning to a smaller department as a way to build on that goal and increase the feeling of providing safety and security.
“I feel like the police in this community have a really tight relationship. I want to keep that going. I would like to solidify our training out here to make sure we are doing the best we can possibly do. We need to have the best trained officers, so we are able to respond and take care of problems proactively instead of reactively. That is one thing I have been able to learn from the bigger organizations – how to use evidence-based policing to get ahead of problems and keep crime from settling in our community.”
Being transparent with the citizens under his watch is important, he added. “I want us to have a good relationship because it is important for people to understand what they are supporting in their taxes and things like that as we look toward the future. I have had the opportunity to talk to every officer in this organization and they absolutely love it here. The thing everybody consistently tells me is ‘I love the people; I love the community.’ There are other places that pay more money right around us, but these officers have a sense of community and appreciation. For them it is about service. And it is nice to see that.”
As the new police chief takes over the helm, he would like to continue to nourish the relationships he has seen between local law enforcement and the communities they serve. He has already met with mayors from both Tremonton and Garland and hopes to continue to strengthen the combined departments. He considers communication to be key in a relationship he called “mutually beneficial for both cities. We are trying to be one department and work together toward the same goal.”
Cordova is excited to be part of the Tremonton/Garland climate and hopes to add his knowledge, experience, abilities and credentials to help maintain the quality of life he has already witnessed in the Bear River Valley.