There's more at stake than just the party nomination for Davis County sheriff in Tuesday's primary election. The winner of the Republican primary likely will be sheriff the next four years, as no Democrat filed for the job.
Incumbent Sheriff Glenn Clary is seeking re-election for a second term, challenged by one of his own deputies, Sgt. Rob Davis, a 13-year department veteran.The two candidates have sniped at each other in several debates on topics ranging in importance from drugs and gangs to whether Davis wears his bulletproof vest when he's on patrol.
The two agree the intertwined issues of gangs and drugs are the top issues facing law enforcement agencies in the county, but from there they diverge on just about all the other issues: morale, budgeting and administration of the 220-person department, the county's largest.
Clary, of Layton, has served one term. His career in law enforcement spans 38 years, starting as a patrolman with the Sunset Police Department in 1957. He worked for the sheriff's department for 31/2 years as an investigator, then spent 18 years with the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff's Depart-ment.
Retiring from there and returning to Utah, Clary was Riverdale Police chief eight years and then ran for the sheriff's job in 1990, taking over in 1991. He is married, with grown children.
Davis, a Farmington resident, has a degree in business and finance from Weber State University. He has been a deputy with the Davis department 13 years, 11 of them as a paramedic and nine overlapping as a sergeant in the patrol division.
He is married and has five school-age children.
One of Clary's strongest campaign planks four years ago was a warning about impending drug and gang problems in the county, something he saw take over during his career in Orange County.
To combat it, Clary said he has assigned one full-time detective and one part-time investigator to the gang problem. They just recently returned from working with LAPD officers in East Los Angeles, gathering intelligence, and are working with other agencies and the community to educate them about the problem, Clary said.
He also instituted the DARE program, a national anti-drug and anti-gang educational program that so far has graduated some 1,800 elementary school students in the county, he added.
One officer is assigned to DARE full time, Clary said, and another is in training to expand the program into junior high schools.
Davis applauds the DARE program but said it's not enough. There are other programs developed both locally and nationally that should also be instituted, he added.
And Davis is critical of Clary's anti-gang efforts. The detectives assigned to it do little but collect information, Davis said. Instead of spending weeks in California, he said, their time could be spent as well working with agencies in Salt Lake or Weber counties, where most of the county's gang problems originate.
And Davis contends the department isn't doing enough to ensure the intelligence that's collected is passed along to the individual deputies, the ones patrolling the streets every day.
That's part of Davis's larger belief that not enough training and equipment are being made available to deputies.
Deputies need more individual radios, newer and better-equipped patrol/paramedic vehicles and more training sessions, and each should have a bulletproof vest, supplied by the department, according to Davis.
Clary answers that the supply of radios is adequate, his department is replacing patrol vehicles as fast as possible within budget constraints, training is being upgraded and meets state standards, and the department is currently purchasing vests.
Besides, Clary said at one debate recently, Davis doesn't always wear his vest when he's out on patrol.
Davis agreed but added the vest is 8 years old, with vests having a five-year effective life. And if the department supplied one to each deputy, wearing it should be a requirement.
Davis also wants to tighten physical conditioning standards. Besides being an embarrassment, overweight and out-of-shape deputies are dangerous, unable to protect themselves, their partners, or the public, he said.
Clary said the department has a fully equipped gym available but cannot require employees to use it unless it is willing to pay them, either overtime or during regular shift time. And the department can't afford that with its tight budget, Clary said.
The department's $8.1 million budget already takes about a fourth of county revenue, Clary said, and decisions and priorities have to be made on the basis of how much money is available to support them.
But budgeting is another area Davis says can be improved, citing his business education and background. Cash-flow studies and other financial tools can be used to get more for the department's money, he said.
The bottom-line difference between the two candidates is, Clary says, the department is operating well and no change is needed in its leadership.
Davis disagrees, saying although it has been tough to campaign against his boss, the need for change outweighs that consideration and has been his prime motivation to run for sheriff.
During the 10 days preceding the primary election June 28, the Deseret News is publishing a series of articles on candidates and the issues they are discussing. In coming days, you'll see the following stories:
Friday: S.L. County assessor, recorder
Saturday: Summit County Commission
Davis County Sheriff
Why are you running for sheriff of Davis County?
Glenn Clary (R):
Things are going very well at the sheriff's department now. I don't think we need to make a change. Most of the problems in law enforcement in the county are related to drugs and gangs. That was the platform I ran on in 1990. I could see the direction then that the county was headed, and I think with the DARE program and the two detectives I have assigned to monitor gang activities, one of them full time, I think we're getting a handle on the problem.
Rob Davis (R):
I'm running because the citizens deserve the best leadership in the top law-enforcement job in the county. I believe I can supply that. I have a personal motivation. I have five children, four in school and one coming up to school. I'm concerned about gangs and safety issues in the county. I also believe I have the expertise, both in law enforcement and administration, to run the department.
What do you see are the main problems facing the sheriff's department?
Glen Clary (R):
Money. I would like to put other things into the department, but I can't do it because of budget restrictions. We can't ask for something in our budget that we can't get. We have to realize that the sheriff's office, with its budget of $8 million, is already getting about one-fourth of the county's revenues. What we have to do is take our share and do the best we can with it.
Rob Davis (R):
The most valuable resource we have in the department is the people. Most of the budget money goes to that. The greatest need is to treat them better than they are now. Our greatest need is to treat them so they want to stay and not keep leaving. We need more commendations and awards, more ways to show the people who work there that they are appreciated.
Is morale in the department low? Is the turnover rate high? If so, what can be done about it?
Glen Clary (R):
One of our biggest problems is burnout in the paramedic division. They feel locked into being paramedics, that nothing else is available to them. What we're trying to do is get more people certified and trained as paramedics so they can be rotated into other divisions, even if it's only temporary. Our turnover is not extraordinarily high. Most of it is in the corrections division, and most of that is because the people are leaving to take positions in regular law enforcement or patrol slots. I don't think morale is low.
Rob Davis (R):
Morale is visibly low. And it's not low because it's an election year. It's low because we don't give our people enough incentives. Correctional officer is now a career position, one you train and have to be certified for. But working in the jail is not the best environment; you're not surrounded by the best people in the world. We need to give them career opportunities to offset those problems. We need to also give the paramedics incentives, better equipment and better vehicles. I've been working the streets 13 years, and I can see the burnout.
Whom would you select as your chief deputy?
Glenn Clary (R):
My chief deputy is Kenny Payne. He has 26 years of law enforcement experience, and I don't anticipate making any changes, either there or in the rest of my senior staff. Between my chief deputy and my four captains, there's 157 years of law enforcement experience.
Rob Davis (R):
I haven't selected this person yet. But when I do, it will be a unique individual, one respected in the community and with both law enforcement and administrative experience. A chief deputy is not like a vice president that takes over in the absence of the sheriff. It doesn't work that way.
How effective has the sheriff's department been in dealing with what you have deter-mined to be the county's top law enforcement problem, drugs and gangs?
Glenn Clary (R):
I started the DARE program in 1992 and it has since graduated 1,800 sixth-graders. I attend every graduation. I get a pledge from all the graduates not to use drugs and not to affiliate with gangs. The point is to get them to commit before they enter the junior high school environment, where the pressure is the toughest. We're now training a second full-time DARE officer and will next target the eighth-graders, to get them to recommit to staying away from drugs and gangs. I have two officers detailed to combating gangs. We're staying on top of the problem; we're offering seminars and training to our own officers and other departments, in addition to the community at large. We are sending a message loud and clear: Gangs are not welcome here.
Rob Davis (R):
We're not like California, or even Salt Lake City yet, when it comes to gangs, but we're getting there. They're around us and they travel through the county, leaving their mark. And, they're recruiting here, in our junior high schools. The DARE program is great; we should push it more. And there are other programs out there, both governmental and private, that we should be using. Our first need, though, is to get our deputies on the street better trained, physically and mentally, to deal with the problem. Every deputy on the street should be gang-smart; they should be benefiting from the training, not just two selected officers.