Dave Boulton, a policeman with the North Salt Lake Police Department for the past 10 years, says he likes being a police officer in a small town.
"We get every kind of crime that any big city does but less of it. Most of the time, North Salt Lake is a nice, quiet town, but you never know when there will be a shooting, an armed robbery, a burglary or a mean family fight."We've had them all. The question is not whether we will get a robbery. The question is will it be tonight, on my shift?"
Boulton, 33, spends about 70 percent of his duty on second or third shift. Sometimes, but not always, he is the only officer on duty in the city for a few hours.
"I know I can get fast backup from neighboring cities or from Davis County Sheriff's deputies, but still, it is sobering to know you are alone.
"We're a small force compared to Salt Lake City. We have only seven full-time police officers, including our police chief, and a couple part-time policemen. I'm not on duty alone very often, but it happens.
"I never take any call for granted - even if it is a burglar alarm from a company that is notorious for having false alarms go off. When you let your guard down and don't take every call as the real thing, you can get yourself in trouble."
Boulton says his idea of a good police officer is somebody who is emotionally flexible, who can mix sternness with compassion and who can deal effectively with a lot of different kinds of people.
Boulton said he tries not to take his job home with him. "My wife, Debbie, had a hard enough time getting used to me working nights. Now we enjoy being together during the day when we can and we enjoy taking our three children on outings.
"I leave my work outside the front door when I go home."
Boulton says he has had to arrest some of his friends and many of his acquaintances in the past. "I always hope they aren't taking it personally. I'm just doing my job."
The North Salt Lake policeman grew up in Val Verda, an unincorporated area of Davis County adjacent to North Salt Lake. His neighborhood was recently incorporated into Bountiful, but he doesn't feel like an outsider.
"I have lived in this area all my life and I know an awful lot of people in North Salt Lake. I feel at home here. I like the town and I like the people who live in it.
"We've got our share of troublemakers and a few people seem to cause most of the police problems in the city."
One of the reasons for the city's relatively low crime rate, Boulton says, is the police department's policy of heavy street patrolling. "Our chief, Val Wilson, really believes in his officers being on the street 24 hours a day."
Boulton says he has never been bored being a policeman. "You have to use your imagination, to think of things to check on during your shift. You have to ask yourself, where would I be if I were a crook and what would I be up to?"