Moab's potential police chief could leave Salt Lake County with vacancy

Moab's new police chief could leave Salt Lake County with vacancy (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) A former undersheriff for Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder confirmed rumors Winder was being considered for the position of Chief of Police in Moab, Utah.

Beau Babka told 2News Thursday he had been consulted by officials in regards to the position.

Moab city manager David Everitt did not deny the claim, but was not able to confirm this information due to privacy reasons.

Everitt said the city has selected a handful of finalists from a pool of more than 40 applicants.

“We’re not able to get to a final candidate, yet, so we’re still reviewing our options,” he said.

Everitt said the city is looking for a candidate with experience managing over a large metropolitan area.

“We’re seeing unprecedented levels of visitation from tourists. We are certainly experiencing some big city problems, challenges, really, that it’d be great to have a really experienced and sophisticated candidate take on the helm, here,” Everitt said.

Elected in 2006, Babka said Winder has made some great accomplishments in issues like uniting metro police under the Unified Police Department, accepting lateral entry for officers, and developing a plan to help the homeless.

“I admire Jim for doing that. I really do. In a vacuum, everyone’s saying what are we going to do, how are we going to do it? At least there’s something there,” he said.

Babka also named increased jail space as an area which needed improvement.

“There’s some things that he’s done well and there’s other things, I think, that he’s kind of dropped the ball. And I think one of those things are jail space. It’s been an issue for decades. And it should have been on the radar,” said Babka. “An issue that’s huge is law enforcement’s inability to book in the marginal bad guy. The guy that did something marginal this time, but is a threat to society.”

If Moab appoints Winder, he could theoretically leave Salt Lake County midterm. In that case, county Democrats would appoint an interim sheriff. If county councilors approve, that person would serve until the next election.

“It could be a very important decision because they could not only be appointing the new sheriff, they could be electing the next sheriff,” Babka said.

Everitt was not able to set a time frame for when councilors would make a decision.

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