SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski will appoint Interim Chief Mike Brown as Chief of Police, according to a news release issued Tuesday.
Brown has been serving as Interim Police Chief since June of last year, following the ouster of former Chief of Police Chris Burbank.
“This is a dream come true,” said Chief Mike Brown in the news release. “I love this community and the officers who work to keep Salt Lake City safe on a daily basis. We all have the same goal of a police department that serves with respect and integrity. I am confident I can lead this force to meet the expectations of Mayor Biskupski and the people of Salt Lake City.”
Brown has served with the Salt Lake City Police Department since 1991 and has held several several positions within the department. Most recently, Brown was the Commander of the Special Operations Bureau, in which he oversaw SWAT, the Safe Streets Gang FBI Task Force, the DEA Metropolitan Task Force, the Organized Crime Unit, the Hazardous Device Unit, the Motorcycle Squad, the Public Order Unit and Accident Investigation.
“I have worked closely with Chief Brown and am encouraged by his willingness to make the necessary changes to keep our city’s police force well trained while also strengthening ties with the community and improving transparency,” said Mayor Biskupski in the news release. “Chief Brown began implementing some changes during the transition period, including my call to work more closely with law enforcement agencies across the county and the DEA to combat the drug trafficking in our city.”
Brown faces a new challenge with a significant shortage of officers.
"We are down in our patrol ranks almost 30 plus officers,” Brown said.
The chief said a combination of retirements, hiring practices and moving officers into specialized roles has left a gap he hopes to fill by the end of the year.
"We're looking to hire another 21 in May and so with that being said we're looking at 76 officers by the end of the year," he said.
Already in place are some changes in training.
"We have changed our policy on how we interview and react with victims of sexual assault,” Brown said.
The new method is similar to the system West Valley City is using and being credited with raising their conviction level on sexual assault cases.
Brown also talked about what he called ‘verbal judo.’ Training officers to use words and actions to lower the chance of a violent encounter.
"It's very much based on de-escalation. It's very much based on creating time, distance, or creating distance, and protection and cover that allows you more time,” Brown said.
The Salt Lake City Council will review Brown's qualifications to serve as Chief of Police in a process called "Advice and Consent" before the appointment is made official.