SOUTH OGDEN — Over the past 22 years as a law enforcement officer, Darin Parke has seen just about everything imaginable, but one incident will haunt him for the rest of his life.
The death, in an Ogden shootout, of strike force agent Jared Francom and injury to five others.
“I have had numerous positive experiences,” Parke said, describing his career. “The most difficult situation was the shooting on January 4, 2012, where so many of my agents were wounded and agent Francom was murdered. That will always be with me.”
Parke, who served as Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force Commander at the time of the shooting involving Matthew David Stewart, was named South Ogden’s new police chief during a recent city council meeting. He said he hopes to keep the department running smoothly and even stronger than it already is.
“We have trained and experienced police officers who are dedicated to protecting the public,” Parke said. “This is an opportunity to review the department as a whole and identify what we can adjust to make our service to the public the best we can.”
Parke, 45, was born and raised in Plain City. He graduated from Weber High School and earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Weber State University. His uncle, Gary Parke, who served as assistant police chief in Salt Lake City, greatly influenced his decision to go into law enforcement.
Parke began working as a reserve officer and quickly moved up the ladder. After six months on the job, he was hired as a patrol officer. Nine months later he was promoted to the K-9 unit. He has also served on the SWAT team and has been a detective.
He has received numerous awards, including the Medal of Merit, Officer of the Year and the Chief’s Citation.
As police chief, he will oversee 28 officers.
The police force is the most visible representation of government, so naturally it’s open to criticism, Parke said.
“Any dissatisfaction with government is easily projected on the police,” he said. “One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t get calls telling us how wonderful things are in someone’s life. They call in their most difficult and dangerous circumstances.”
Parke said as officers try to resolve those situations, they must also abide by the Constitution and the law. Doing so creates frustration at times for both the officers and the public.
“We are responsible for protecting people’s rights while enforcing the law,” he said.
While Parke said it’s a top priority to protect the public, there are some things people can do to protect themselves.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “When you go somewhere, identify where the alternate exits are located. Lock things up at night and don’t leave any valuables in your car, and if you have a bad feeling about a situation or a place, leave.”
Parke also said he thinks people need to make their own decisions regarding concealed weapons and gun ownership, and said he has no problem with a good, responsible citizen carrying a gun.
Parke is married with children and is the owner of two parakeets, a dog, two cats and a rabbit. When he isn’t chasing the bad guys, Parke enjoys fishing, skiing, basketball, gardening and recently started keeping bees.