Cop campaigns for Morgan sheriff
Darwin Little hopes to cut his 50-minute commute time considerably starting in January.
Little, a sergeant in the Park City Police Department, lives in Morgan and is one of three people seeking to be the next Morgan County sheriff. It’s a job that Little has coveted since he started in Utah law enforcement in the 1990s.
"As a rookie, when I first started law enforcement, that was a dream of mine, to be sheriff of Morgan County," Little said.
Candidates statewide were required to file papers for November’s election in March, launching Little’s political career. In Morgan County, elections are non-partisan, meaning that he need not declare a political party.
He is running against Gene Ercanbrack, who is the incumbent, and Greg Wynn. A primary is scheduled in June to reduce the field to two for the general election in November. All of the candidates are from Morgan.
Little claims that the Sheriff’s Office in Morgan suffers from a disconnect with the community, saying that he plans a campaign with a platform of making sure the Sheriff’s Office is "visible and responsive."
He said the Sheriff’s Office employs 11 sworn deputies, including the sheriff, and, with a department that size, it is important that they patrol the county’s neighborhoods.
Little said, if he is elected, he wants to form an advisory committee to assist the Sheriff’s Office better understand the community. He said such a committee would ensure that the Sheriff’s Office responds to complaints and it "alleviates that perception of sweeping it under the rug."
"You have to be dynamic in your communication," Little said.
Little, who is 39 years old, plans to remain with the police force in Park City through the election and plans to keep his job if he loses in Morgan County. He informed Park City Police Chief Lloyd Evans of his campaign plans six months ago.
Little said the Morgan County sheriff’s salary is slightly better than what he earns in Park City but that City Hall’s benefits are better than those in Morgan County.
Little worked for the Dallas Police Department in 1989 and 1990 and spent nine years in the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy, detective and a member of a homicide task force, he said. Little left the Sheriff’s Office for the Park City Police Department, where he was promoted to sergeant and served as the second in command at Deer Valley Resort during the 2002 Winter Olympics, where skiing and freestyle events were staged.
In Dallas, Little said, he learned about officer safety because of the severity of the crimes committed in the metropolis. But Park City taught him about what he labels community-oriented policing, such as how to be a personable officer, he said. Little also said he learned supervisory skills in Park City.
If Little wins in November, he will become the second Park City officer in recent years to become a sheriff. Dave Edmunds was a Park City officer before being elected Summit County sheriff in 2002.
"I think that, generally speaking, the Park City Police Department has had the opportunity to prepare a number of our officers for administrative-type positions," Police Chief Lloyd Evans said.
He noted that the Olympics and other big events like the Sundance Film Festival provided opportunities for Park City officers to become better trained for advanced police positions.
Evans commended Little, noting his promotion to sergeant and his service during the Games.
"It’s a fairly rigorous process one has to go through to be promoted," Evans said, describing Little as a "good, consistent, meticulous officer" and "detailed."
Little said the most important law-enforcement issue in Morgan County is narcotics and he said drugs are seen in schools and a city park.
He said high-school students are taking drugs and that marijuana and methamphetamine are the most common narcotics. Little said, however, that the drugs in Morgan County are not as prevalent as they are in Park City.
Little is confident that his tenure in Park City prepares him for Morgan County.
"I’ve received the training from a class resort community that deals with different walks of life every day," he said.
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In an intriguing sidebar to the overall Park City Planning Commission talks about a proposed project at Park City Mountain Resort, the developer recently mentioned a future Winter Olympics in the context of the project.