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South Jordan Journal

SoJo PD honors many who make SoJo safest city in Salt Lake County

Aug 01, 2019 10:43AM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Master Officer Tim Prince received the Lifesaving Medal from SoJo Police Chief Jeff Car and Lt. Rob Hansen for helping save a South Jordan youngster’s life. (South Jordan Police Department)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected] 

A convenience store becomes anything but convenient for store patrons and clerks.

Sundries, sweets and smokes are quickly forgotten once a wild-eyed man suddenly starts making death threats.

He then bolts to his car, seeking a getaway by driving into oncoming traffic.

Hot in pursuit, the sergeant pulls the driver over.

The man exits the vehicle, advancing on the sergeant.

Using communication skills, the sergeant works to get—and then keep—the suspect as calm as possible, avoiding further escalation. The man is ultimately tased, then cuffed and taken into custody.

It is a day in the life — or, actually, just a few hours in the life—of a South Jordan police officer.

Safe SoJo: a mayoral priority and her chief’s commitment to strategic safety

SoJo is a notably safe city. According to SafeWise, an organization leveraging data to report on the safest cities, the city of South Jordan is the ninth-safest city in the state and is the only top-20 ranked safe city from Salt Lake County. At her “State of the City” speech earlier this year, SoJo Mayor Dawn Ramsey indicated safety continues to be a “top priority” for the city.

The secret sauce to safety, according to SoJo Police Chief Jeff Carr, lies with a community committed to staying safe and to one comfortable with and trusting the value of teaming with its police force.

Such a safety strategy is what Carr has been emphasizing the past four years, since coming to SoJo to lead the South Jordan Police Department.

Once a year, Carr has what he calls the “pleasure” of honoring excellence in community care—to both officers and community members. Carr and Lt. Rob Hansen presented awards in several categories, May 22, at an annual banquet, held in neighboring Sandy at a Workers Compensation Fund facility gifted to the force for the night’s use. 

More than 120 people attended, including officers themselves and their significant others, Ramsey and members of the SoJo City Council as well as city leadership, including SoJo City Manager Gary Whatcott and SoJo Assistant City Manager Dustin Lewis.

Lifesaving Medal Honorees

The Lifesaving Medal is awarded to employees and/or residents who, in the course of their duties or everyday life, perform an act that greatly contributes to the saving of another human life

The same sergeant whose actions introduced this article, Sgt. Sam Winkler of SoJo PD, not only received a Distinguished Service Medal for halting a dangerous assailant, but also received what Carr indicates is the highest honor to receive—the Lifesaving Medal.

In mid-October of last year, crowd of people—including a child’s parents—were unable to stop a child from choking. Winkler’s “quick response and decision-making ability,” Carr said, led to swift performance of the lifesaving Heimlich maneuver.

Also honored with the Lifesaving Medal were SoJo Master Officers Tim Prince and Pat Dempsey. Last August, the officers were called to a scene where a man was unconscious and not breathing. They relieved a resident’s failing efforts at mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and, with CPR, were able to help the man regain his pulse. The man was transported to the hospital, where he survived, “due to their quick and decisive actions,” Carr said.

Distinguished Service Medal Honorees

The Distinguished Police Service Medal is awarded to an individual who—during the course of a project, investigation, or assignment—performs meritorious service leading to the success of a difficult assignment of project.

In addition to Winkler’s being commended for his apprehending the dangerous assailant, Carr selected two others to honor as Distinguished Service Medal Honorees.

Last summer, Detective Dan Burke played a crucial role in apprehending a sexual predator of a minor.

Lt. Matt Pennington spent two years (2016-2018) heading up the SoJo PD’s strategic goal to literally arm all the schools in South Jordan City in the event of attacks. The “Avoid, Deny, Defend” curriculum was rolled out to nearly 5,000 school employees—trainings led by Lt. Pennington.

“Exemplary service” is how Carr depicted Pennington’s work on the project to the South Jordan Journal.

Chief’s Awards

DeAnn Bland was called a “valuable asset” and was credited with doing “an exceptional job” in the hiring, scheduling and management of the city’s crossing guard program.

Carr is a big proponent of developing community-policing culture in the SoJo PD. A big component of that is the training program. Four officers who “had a hand in training nearly all of our new officers that came through the department’s FTO (Full-Time Officer) Program” were honored.

Officers Tim Prince, Andrew Thompson, Paul Houston and Michaela Larrabee received the “Chief’s Award” for their work. 

“As many of you know, training new cops is no easy task,” Carr said. “These four officers did an outstanding job and stepped up to the task of training our young officers.” Carr also credited the group with helping “make the South Jordan Police Department a great place to work”—an especially important factor, in light of the state and countywide law-enforcement shortage.

Citizen’s Meritorious Service Medal

Carr believes that safety starts with residents. Along that line, he awarded two individuals, Paul Bergera and Priscilla Nielsen, with the Citizen’s Meritorious Service Medal, honoring their serving on the SoJo PD’s Community Advisory Board. Carr credited the CAB with valuable insight.