Top cop readies for retirement
December 18, 2007
On April 3, 1978, Lloyd Evans arrived for his first assignment with the Park City Police Department, a graveyard shift that was typical for rookie cops.
In the almost 30 years since, Evans, now the chief of police, has helped guide the department as it has grown with the rest of the city, fighting drug dealers, cracking down on speeding motorists and handling the annual hordes of ski-town revelers.
Evans last weekend told City Hall staffers he will retire by July 1, 2008, ending his tenure fighting crime in his hometown. The government has said it will conduct a nationwide search for his successor.
A son of a miner, he worked his way up the ranks, becoming a detective after his time on the beat and then winning assignments in the administration. Evans, who is 54, became the chief in 1997, as City Hall was preparing for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
He talks about Park City’s olden days, when the city was trying to turn itself from a gasping silver-mining town into a ski resort. He was growing up then, watching the city transform. Evans wanted to stay, though, even as Park City struggled through a downturn.
He remembers the night shifts in the late 1970s, saying there was little for officers to do once the bar crowd went home from Main Street, a contrast to today, when the department’s late-night officers regularly handle calls.
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"After the Cozy and the Alamo closed down, it was pretty much it," Evans says. "Town would die right down."
There were still fights, he remembers, but the street was not as rambunctious as today. He talks about breaking up a fight by himself one night at the Alamo, putting himself between "a melee of fists."
Evans says the mid-1980s murder of Fred Duncan is among the biggest cases of his tenure. He was shot and killed in his Old Town house during the weekend of the Park City Art Festival, and Evans and other investigators spent more than a year seeking the killer. The gun was found in a pond at the Park City Golf Course, which led the police to Preston Mitchell. The police secured an arrest warrant and captured Mitchell in Missouri.
Early in his career, Evans started on a career path to the chief’s office, deciding he wanted to be the top cop in Park City someday. Over his tenure, he says Park City changed in each decade, and fighting crime had to adapt, culminating in today’s Police Department.
In his decade leading the department, officers have tried to develop better relations with the city’s burgeoning Latino community, played a key role in security during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and kept order in a city where partying and drunkenness is common.
He also maintained relations with the department’s officers, even as some have been displeased with his leadership style. He acknowledges his relationship with officers was sometimes difficult to keep, however.
"I believe I generally have a good rapport with the majority of the officers," he says, describing he earned that relationship by being "fair and equitable."
Evans talks about the seating of a committee to review complaints against the Police Department as a key step, adding that there has been just one case put to the committee.
He says he has considered retirement for several years but has not decided what he will pursue as a career afterward. He says he might become a consultant or assist with homeland security. He mentions his extensive experience with guarding special events.
Evans is happy he spent his career with one department, allowing him to try to better the place he grew up.
"I realized this was the place I wanted to have the opportunity to run the show and make a difference," he says.