Summit County Sheriff satisfied with tenure
Dave Edmund’s time as Summit County sheriff is quickly coming to an end.
His office walls are mostly bare, as he’s begun the process of removing 12 years worth of placards and frames in preparation for Sheriff-elect Justin Martinez to move in.
Edmunds has been the sheriff for more than a decade, but made the decision not to run again and will step down from his position on Dec. 31.
"I’ve done what I wanted to do," Edmunds said. "It’s time to move on."
Edmunds was elected as sheriff for the first time in 2002 and took office in 2003. He has served three consecutive four-year terms since.
When it came time to consider running for re-election, Edmunds said he felt confident with what he had accomplished for the department.
"What a blessing that is to me that the team I put together has been so successful," Edmunds said.
Running for sheriff
Edmunds decided to make the transition from Park City Police Officer to sheriff because he felt the county’s department was lacking in professionalism and interaction with the public, he said.
"My foremost goal was to professionalize this agency," Edmunds said. "Prior to my election, I thought this organization was not as professional as it could be. I didn’t think they looked like cops or acted like cops and I wanted to bring that up."
Since his time in office, Edmunds has changed the department’s image and infrastructure.
"This office doesn’t look the way it used to," he said.
Deputies wear different uniforms and drive different cars. A Citizen Advisory Board and Offender Review Board were established. Deputies were encouraged to further their education and training. Now, almost 20 deputies have college degrees and post-graduate education, including Edmunds who has a master’s in Public Administrastion from the University of Utah.
"When Edmunds came into the office, it was fairly dysfunctional and there were a lot of issues which needed to be corrected," Martinez said. "Edmunds really had to clean house and it upset some people in the community, but it was the right thing to do to professionalize this office and take it into the 21st century."
Early in Edmunds’ career, Summit County was thrust into the spotlight.
"I had to navigate some difficult waters early on and some of those cases were a shock to the system," he said.
In 2003, 58-year-old Carole Wetherton and Kim Beverly, 39, both from Georgia, went missing in the Uinta Mountains. In 2004, 11-year-old Garrett Bardsley went missing, as well. As sheriff, Edmunds is charged with overseeing the Summit County Search and Rescue team.
"It takes a personal toll on you when you spend 14 or 15 hours with a family," Edmunds said. "You start to develop relationships with these people and some of those are still ongoing."
The father of four said certain cases were very emotional and taxing.
"It’s not hard to empathize," he said. "It’s easy to try and put yourself in their position and I often found myself conflicted as the head of the organization to make some very difficult decisions that are life-altering and have a tremendous weight of gravity to them."
Summit County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue liaison Alan Siddoway said Edmunds was extremely supporting, not only in those cases, but of the search-and-rescue team.
"He came to searches and spent time with us, whether it was late at night or early in the morning," Siddoway said. "We always felt backed by him and it means a lot to know that you are not out there alone and have bosses that support you. You know that they are away from their family to be right there with you."
During his tenure, Edmunds says the Sheriff’s Department has, at times, drawn criticism from the community.
"As law enforcement, we are telling them they can’t do things," he said. "That can put you in a precarious situation with the community. You have to question people and conduct enforcement operations. It makes it a cauldron of difficulties."
But, the community has seen a dramatic reduction in crime and DUI fatalities, Edmunds said, adding that the county has not had a DUI fatality on his watch.
"From a statistical perspective, that’s the one I’m the most proud of," he said. "And I own the fact that I have been the one calling for aggressive policing. It’s come at a price and there have been factions of this community that have felt like we’ve been heavy handed or too aggressive, but it has borne great fruit."
Moving on to the private sector
On Jan. 2, Edmunds will enter the private sector as the chief executive officer for Stone Security Inc.
The transition is not without trepidation and "melancholy," he said, adding that serving as sheriff has been one of the "single greatest honors" of his professional career.
"It’s something I asked for and I’ll always be thankful for the citizens for placing their trust in me," Edmunds said. "I wouldn’t have traded a moment of the last 12 years.
"I love Summit County," he said. "I don’t agree with everyone and they don’t agree with me. But there has been a lot of civil discourse over the years and I think that speaks volumes of the community that we live in."
Editor’s note, Dec. 17: This story originally described the private company Sheriff Edmunds will be working for as "Rocky Mountain Security Services, Inc." The correct name of the company is "Stone Security Inc."; Edmunds describes it as "the Rocky Mountains’ premiere security integration company."
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