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Ex-chief regains old post in Wendover

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The perpetually unpredictable pendulum of Wendover City law enforcement is swinging once again.

A previous mayor and council fired one former police chief in 1995, another in 1996 and began the unusual process last fall of consolidating the Utah city's police department across state lines with its larger sister department in West Wendover, Nev.But a new City Council that includes one of those former police chiefs, Vaughn Tripp, pushed the city's police department off in another direction Wednesday night.

The council voted 4-0 to reseat Tripp as chief, a move that effectively quashes any future plans for consolidation.

Councilman Tripp, who served almost six years as police chief before his termination, abstained from voting and did not take part in the selection process.

However, the 40-year-old Wendover native was hired with the stipulation he must recertify through Utah's Peace Officer Standards Training (POST) program before reporting for work.

Tripp, who has been working as a dealer in a West Wendover casino for the past 2 1/2 years, indicated he plans to resign his council seat as soon as he is recertified.

Council members voted last fall to proceed with consolidation under West Wendover Police Chief Alan James, who recently resigned under fire after being suspended by his city council in Nevada.

Tripp said Wednesday he believes the main forces behind consolidation were James, who also had been serving as Wendover City's acting chief, the former mayor and a few council members.

With James out of the picture and a new mayor and council in office, Wendover officials agreed during recent budget meetings they want a separate autonomous police force again and set aside $34,100 to hire a new chief.

Mayor Kent Peterson said no council action is required to set aside consolidation plans since the previous council only voted to "proceed" and never formally ratified the plan to integrate the two police departments.

Tripp will head a department of four officers, including himself, and plans to hire a fifth officer as soon as possible.

"It's normally a five-person staff, but for the past year, it has been only one or two officers," he said after the council meeting. "My first goal is to get us back on line as a fully operational department."

The council appointed Tripp during a special meeting Wednesday night that included a two-hour executive session to discuss the character and competence of the two finalists for the job.

A major factor in choosing Tripp, the mayor said, "is his past experience here in town" including his prior service as police chief.

Peterson also indicated Tripp's decision to resign from the council came on his own volition and is not required by law.

He said an attorney for the Utah League of Cities and Towns had advised Wendover officials Tripp could hold both the police chief post and his council seat if he had chosen to do so.

Tripp was selected from four candidates.

, one of whom dropped out during the selection process.

To avoid having to go through POST training again, Tripp said he will take a test challenging the Utah peace officer standards, based on his experience.