OGDEN — Weber County has a new sheriff in town.
Monday was Ryan Arbon’s first official day as sheriff for the county, as he was sworn in alongside two new county commissioners Scott Jenkins and Gage Froerer. Arbon is taking over for two-term sheriff Terry Thompson who did not seek re-election.
Arbon spoke with the Standard-Examiner on Tuesday, his first full day on the job.
Since 2016, Arbon served as the chief of police in Perry. Before that, he spent 14 years at the Clearfield Police Department. Arbon said he’s spent most of his life around northern Utah, with the exception of a quick stint in Missouri just after he got married.
“Being the sheriff or working for the sheriff’s office is all about public safety for the residents,” Arbon said. “Public safety is our first priority.”
Arbon said he hopes to translate his prior experience with leading a police department to his current position, adding he knows the value of a team effort toward getting a job done.
“It’s not just me and I can do everything myself, it’s all of us that are included,” he said.
“That includes the community, too. Everybody needs to be involved for the ultimate goal, which is to provide everyone a safe place to live.”
Shortly after Arbon won the Republican primary in June, Thompson reached out to him to help make the transition as smooth as possible, Arbon said. He said that Thompson has been nothing but accommodating during his transition into the role of sheriff.
Arbon said there are a number of things he wants to change or do differently at the sheriff’s office, including a greater focus on employees at the sheriff’s office.
As with many police agencies across the state, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office has had issues with retaining officers in recent years. Arbon said he wants his administration to do everything they can to care for sheriff’s office employees and their families, a goal and promise he made while campaigning last year.
“This administration is going to invest everything we can into the employee and their families, because we believe they come first,” Arbon said. He said that includes training, benefits and a focus on mental and physical health of those at the sheriff’s office. Arbon went on to say that over the past 15 years the number of deputies has dropped roughly 30 percent, a statistic he hopes to change during his term as sheriff.
He hopes that the sheriff’s office will soon be among the local leaders in pay and benefits for law enforcement offices, saying they want to be the example for not only how an agency operates but how they also pay their employees.
Arbon said in recent years the perception of law enforcement has changed, and is one reason many police departments have seen a heavy drop in applications.
“The goal of this administration is to to change that, and show that this is still a noble profession,” Arbon said. “There are not very noble professions anymore. Law enforcement, police work and so forth, it’s a noble profession.”
He went on to say that the accountability of those in his department will be a priority while he is in office. He said he wants the sheriff’s office to be better with communication so they can address whatever issue arises, big or small.
“I’m accountable to the public, and the officers here are accountable as well,” Arbon said. “We’re going to change the way our operations are as far as accountability.”
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office has dealt with a number of issues in recent years with both their corrections and their enforcement divisions.
In January 2018, the department fired their sole evidence technician, Candice Follum, after she was “under the influence” while at work. Later, 40 criminal charges were filed against Follum, and she later pleaded guilty to all charges. More recently, Jeremy Miller, a county corporal was charged with five felonies after he was accused of having sex with female inmates at the downtown Kiesel jail that he was supervising at the time.
Arbon said he couldn’t speak to any issues that happened before he joined the department, but said all agencies have issues and problems and his office will work to prevent any of those issues that could arise.
“We want to change our operations when it comes to accountability,” he said. “We are going to discuss these issues no matter how big or how small they are ... we’re all going to be a lot more connected and have a lot better communication in this office.”
Despite any issues the department has had in the past, Arbon said he’s eager to get started and serve the people of Weber County in any way he can.
“We will do everything we can to the best of our abilities to make this sheriff’s office more accountable, be more effective and be more efficient and more responsive to the needs of our community,” Arbon said. “We got a lot of big things and a lot of little things we need to accomplish.”