Moab’s Police Chief, Jared Garcia, has been working in the position officially since May 9. During the city council’s regular meeting on May 24, he gave an update on the department. In the past year, Moab’s police department has come under national scrutiny for a number of policy violations, including in a domestic violence case between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie last fall. The department was also recently admonished by a local judge, who found that officers were frequently failing to use their body cameras correctly.
Garcia began his update with the recognition of current officers.
“They’ve been through some tough times, and they’ve stuck through it with the department,” he said. “Even though some of them played a role in some of the scrutiny, we still owe them a great deal of gratitude for sticking through and really being loyal to this department.”
He said there are still “significant challenges” in the department. Hiring is the number one priority for the department: there have been two resignations since Garcia started. The department is currently staffed with three sergeants, two full-time officers, one part-time officer, and Garcia. Ideally, he said, the department would have a staff of 17.
“We need to establish a culture, and create a desirable place for people to work,” he said.
Another challenge Garcia is facing is training, he said, especially as the department plans to onboard more people. With only two full-time officers, there’s hardly anyone at the department who is available to train new officers.
“We absolutely need consistency in how we train our officers,” Garcia said. With training, Garcia is emphasizing domestic violence training and threat assessment, he said.
Garcia also mentioned school safety: there have been three threats to Grand County schools since Friday, May 20, he said, and the department is “committing resources to the schools as quickly as possible,” he said. In 2020, the department had to eliminate a School Resource Officer position—a position dedicated to the school district—because of staffing needs elsewhere in the department.
“We do have a lot of work to do,” Garcia said, adding that he thinks he can get the department back on track in a year. “I’m excited for the future, and I know we’re going to accomplish these things.”
The councilmembers thanked Garcia for his work.
“We know your plate is full and overflowing, but I appreciate you letting us know that it’s going to take a while to get to the point where we all feel satisfied with our police department,” said Mayor Joette Langianese. “But we know you’re going to be able to do it.”