This Utah sheriff hastily resigned after losing a primary election, leaving a county scrambling

The move left the already small department with even fewer deputies and prompted county officials to change its hiring policy.

(Wayne County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook) Wayne County Sheriff Dan Jensen resigned in a letter dated Oct. 16, 2022. County officials said he never told anyone that he was leaving and that they only found out when they discovered the letter on someone’s desk on October 16, 2022. 20, 2022.

The lame duck of Wayne County The sheriff resigned without notice this month, leaving only a letter on an office manager’s desk and the county jostling to replace him before his opponent inevitably takes office after the November election.

Dan Jensen, who became sheriff four years ago, wrote in the letter dated Oct. 16 but found on Oct. 20 that he had “greatly enjoyed” his time at the department and learned skills he “will definitely take with him”. [him] through [his] career.” He also promised to “do everything possible to complete my tasks and train other team members over the next week.”

But an addendum at the bottom of the letter noted that “no employee of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has been notified of this resignation”. He added that as of October 21, employees “still have not been contacted or informed of this decision” and that Jensen has never handed over “passwords or any other communication for the shift transfer.”

From Friday evening, Jensen did not return a call seeking comment.

A bustling tourist area with few officers

County Clerk Ryan Torgerson confirmed the truth of the letter obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune. He said the county commission began the process of appointing an acting sheriff at their meeting on Monday, Oct. 24.

Waiting, Torgerson said Chief Deputy Ernest Robinson has been appointed temporary director of the sheriff’s office. Since Jensen is a Republican, the Republican Party will choose who to appoint in his absence. The party has 30 days to name its pick, which Wayne County commissioners must approve.

The sudden departure of Jensen left the already small sheriff’s department short-staffed. Torgerson said that before Jensen’s resignation, the sheriff and four deputies patrolled the sparsely populated 2,486-square-mile county south of Interstate 70 but north of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area, containing parts Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks.

During Monday’s committee meeting, officials discussed the next staff the hole that Jensen left.

Deputy Micah Gulley, who won the Republican sheriff’s primary and is running unopposed in the general election, told commissioners he didn’t care who was nominated before he likely became sheriff – he just wanted anyone to work with the team.

Police in Wayne County is difficult with so few employees, Gulley said. Even before Jensen left, there was often only one officer on duty. He said that was not enough.

“We have methamphetamine. We have DUIs. We have flight. We have sexual assaults. We have everything everyone else has. It’s just that the frequency is much smaller because the population density is smaller, but, he said, it’s getting bigger. That’s part of the problem.

Tourism in so-called “Capitol Reef country” – with its vast, rugged sandstone landscapes and high-altitude forests with numerous lakes for fishing – has also boomed over the past two decades, a- he declared. Summers are particularly busy.

Gulley said he was running for sheriff to address these staffing issues by asking for grants and advocating for county towns to pay more taxes to run the sheriff’s office.

“But when you’re missing so many people, [Jensen leaving] it only makes it worse,” he said, “but we’ll get through it.”

He said deputies pulled doubles and worked extra shifts to make up the difference.

An “inappropriate” way to quit

At Monday’s committee meeting, officials agreed to rehire a former deputy who had previously left the department.

Gulley said hiring this deputy would be faster than hiring someone with no experience who would need to go through the lengthy process of getting their state police certification and necessary on-the-job trainings. .

The commissioners also proposed changing county policy to allow hires who have not had a DUI in the past five years. or any other alcohol-related convictions, such as being cited for open container, driving county vehicles. Previously, it forever banned people with such beliefs. Officials said they would ratify the change at their next meeting.

Neither Torgerson nor Gulley said they knew why Jensen left, although they said it was presumably related to losing the primary election.

Gulley said he had no problem with Jensen’s resignation, or with him as a person, but he takes issue with how the the old sheriff is gone.

“I understand that people are not in a good mood or not happy with the results and the results, but to leave in this way,” Gulley said, “I thought it was inappropriate. was very professional. It kind of left us in a bad place.

Gulley said he has not spoken to Jensen since learning of his former boss’s resignation, but said Jensen has since spoken with Chief Deputy Robinson about returning his equipment and the transfer of access to professional accounts.

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