New Heber City police chief to follow daughter to Utah

Parker Sever and his wife will follow his daughter from California when he moves to Heber City as the new police chief.
Photo courtesy of Parker Sever

Seated in a comfortable-looking easy chair, Parker Sever virtually attended the Tuesday night meeting in Heber City when the City Council unanimously approved him as the new police chief once he’s registered through Utah’s Peace Officers Standards and Training.

The mayor nominated two options for the council to choose from, Sever and Branden Russell, a current lieutenant already working in the city’s police department.

“We’ve been really discussing and deliberating and researching this for a long time,” Councilor Mike Johnston said. “This is not an easy vote, especially when you know people in the city like we do.”

Sever is coming to Heber City from Hanford, California, where he serves as chief. Speaking with The Park Record, he said it is the only place he’s worked in his 27-year law enforcement career.

After his daughter moved to Utah, however, he and his wife decided to follow.

“I thought it was a beautiful state. My wife has always wanted to live there, and so I guess I finally got sold on it,” Sever said. “My wife gave me the ultimatum. … She said, ‘When you retire, we’re moving to Utah or I’m moving without you.'”

Though Sever is on track to retire from Hanford, he grew excited when he saw Heber City was searching for a police chief when he visited the community in search of property.

“I just thought it would be a fabulous sector into my next chapter,” he said. “I’m not interested in taking it easy. I love this job, and I love police work.”

Speaking about his style of policing, Sever criticized California for being “too compassionate.”

“That may sound a little bit weird because it’s very important to be caring and compassionate,” he said. “However, what has to go along with that caring and compassion is accountability, and that’s what we’re lacking in California.”

Though holding people liable for little things can sound tough, he explained, “when we hold people accountable at the lowest possible level, that is the best case scenario for anybody because their behavior isn’t allowed to continue to get worse until you have to arrest them and put them in jail, which is what we want to try to avoid.”

In his time in California, Sever said he’s had several bosses who have entered his department and made changes without understanding the culture of the department or the culture of the community. That is something he doesn’t intend to do.

“I’m not interested in bringing California to Heber or making Heber Hanford,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to having you come and join us here,” Mayor Heidi Franco told him Tuesday night.

“This is a very bitter-sweet thing for me,” Sever said about leaving his agency for Heber City. “I was very impressed with the employees during my visit, in particular Lt. Russell. I look forward to working with him and the rest of the department.”

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