OGDEN — Ogden named a new chief of police Tuesday, saying goodbye to one longtime Junction City law enforcement veteran and welcoming in another.
In a press conference held at the Francom Public Safety Building, Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell appointed Deputy Chief Eric Young as new head of the Ogden Police Department. The appointment comes after current OPD Chief Randy Watt informed the city of his pending retirement.
A 27-year veteran of the OPD, Caldwell described Young as a “natural fit” to replace the outgoing Watt.
“We’re entirely confident in his ability to lead us into the future,” Caldwell said of Young.
Caldwell said Young is scheduled to take helm of the department shortly after the new year, pending approval by the Ogden City Council.
Young is a 50-plus year resident of Weber County and has been employed with OPD since spring 1993. A graduate of Weber State University (he later earned a master’s degree in management from Western Governors University), Young started his career with the police department as a patrol officer, steadily moving up the ranks and becoming deputy police chief in 2012. He’s received numerous awards during his tenure and has served on several community service-oriented boards.
The incoming chief recognized his last three predecessors — chiefs Watt, Mike Ashment and Jon Greiner — for each imparting wisdom he will use when working as police chief.
“My task ... is to continue their legacy and break new ground to meet the challenges presented to policing today,” Young said.
Communities nationwide, including in Utah, are challenging police leaders to make changes, Young said.
“As a leader, I value my community’s input on its police department,” he said. “I will listen to the concerns of this community ... understanding the challenging circumstances our fine Ogden officers encounter every day, as well as understanding those members of our community who hold different thoughts, values and opinions on policing.”
At its core Young’s philosophy on policing could well be encapsulated by a story he told Tuesday about a young boy from Louisville, Kentucky. More than 60 years ago, the boy’s bicycle was stolen in his neighborhood. As the 12-year-old boy plotted a violent revenge, he was steered to a police officer who was known to spend time at a local boxing gym. The officer calmed the young man and encouraged him to consider taking some of his frustration out by learning some boxing. The boy turned out to be Muhammad Ali.
“We must never forget that police officers have a great opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of young people,” Young said. “We will strive to be a department who makes a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.”
As for Watt, Caldwell praised the outgoing chief’s leadership and innovation, which lead to a significant reduction in violent crime during his four-year term as head of the department. Caldwell said part-one crimes, which according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation include things like homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts, thefts and arsons, went down 34% during Watt’s four years. Violent crimes made up 27% of that reduction, Caldwell said.
Watt was a nearly 40-year veteran of the OPD. He became chief in January 2017. The outgoing chief said the leadership at Ogden City, the City Council and at other law enforcement agencies around the area contributed greatly to the successes achieved during his tenure.