Some 14 years ago, patrolman Ken McGuire was handed a badge and the keys to a West Jordan patrol car.
After working in almost every division of the city's combined public safety department, McGuire pulled his car into the parking stall reserved for the chief Wednesday morning after being named public safety director by the City Council.McGuire, 38, has been the acting director since former Chief Kal Farr made a career change and left the department in December. Because the city's police and fire services are combined into one department, the public safety director is both the police and fire chief. And just as many of the officers in the department are cross-trained in both police and firefighting responsibilities, McGuire is a firefighter as well as a policeman.
"I'm overwhelmed and I'm humbled," McGuire said of the appointment. "I don't know how I can lose with the great bunch of people the department's made up of."
City Manager Ron Olson said the decision to name McGuire to the post came after he interviewed 45 applicants and conducting extensive evaluations with six finalists. "At the conclusion of the whole process, I think we got the best man for the job. I have absolute total confidence in Ken," Olson said.
"In addition to his technical expertise as an officer, he's grown up in our public safety program," Olson said. "He has a personal quality for being fair and being very consistent over time. He is a people person. He's going to relate very well - as he has in the past - to the people in the department. He is capable of talking to the citizens and relating to them and their concerns."
McGuire said he is also looking forward to a good relationship with City Hall. "Of all of the managers I've worked for, I think Ron is one of the best in building the character of his subordinates."
Some departmental housekeeping items have been on hold while Olson weeded through the applicants for the public safety director's position. But that hasn't kept the city and McGuire from tackling some major police-related issues
The city has a contract to provide security for Soviet missile inspectors who live in West Jordan and commute to Magna each day to observe the Hercules plant. Some 11 new officers were hired recently to meet the demands of the new contract. Those new officers are now in the advanced stages of field training.
West Jordan police also just finished conducting a course for SWAT officers from between 10 and 15 law enforcement agencies around the state. The course involved instruction by a team of anti-terrorist experts from Great Britain and was observed by other agencies from outside Utah, including the Marine Corps.
The police and fire departments also completed a change to the new Valley Emergency Communications Center, which now performs dispatch duties for West Jordan and most other departments in the Salt Lake Valley.
McGuire's role as acting chief also came on the heels of a morale-busting proposal by one member of the City Council that would have disbanded the public safety department and turned police and fire services over to the Salt Lake County Sheriff's department.
The city, over the past decade, has also compared the city's public safety system with a number of different operating philosophies. "We've tried about everything," McGuire said. "I don't see any changes in the way we're doing things. I think it works well, and the employees are happy with the concept."
Because McGuire was promoted from his job as lieutenant over investigations, some personnel changes at the division level are pending to fill McGuire's vacancy and make some other realignments, Olson said. "He's taken a hard look at the organization of the department, and there will be some reorganizing taking place."
McGuire holds a bachelor's degree from Westminster College, where he studied adult education and behavioral science. He was a reserve police officer in Murray for four years before taking his first full-time police job in West Jordan.