During the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10, Police Chief Jared Garcia presented his plan for training new staff at the Moab police department in 2023; since becoming chief, Garcia has added many new officers to the staff. 

“We’re in the process of reevaluating our entire policy manual,” Garcia said. “… We’re making great progress, but the next step is training: once we get people onboarded, we absolutely have to train them the right way.” 

All new hires start with a two-week (80-hour) in-house training to review things like department and city policies, proper use of technology, and vehicle operations; new officers also have this time to introduce themselves to the community. Officers will go through 400 hours of field training, though any “lateral hires”—officers who are hired from other police departments—can abbreviate this training based on previous experience. 

Garcia is planning a number of trainings for officers throughout the year. In January, officers will go through trainings including autism spectrum disorder training, arrest control, and mental health and crisis intervention; in February, officers will be trained on topics including search and seizure, search warrants, and de-escalation; in March, topics include traffic investigations and enforcement and emergency vehicle operation. Officers will also conduct an active shooter drill at local schools. 

Each month of the year will have a number of trainings, Garcia said. 

“We hope to train as much as possible with other organizations,” Garcia said, such as law enforcement partners and community organizations like the Moab Valley Multicultural Center.

Garcia was asked by Councilmember Kalen Jones about the policy manual project: while the policy manual is being reviewed and rewritten in-house, Garcia said he has consulted with other city staff, such as City Manager Carly Castle, to get new input. 

“As I’m sure you’re much more aware than I am, law enforcement has bled over into the political realm in recent years,” Jones said. “So it’s important that there’s that dialogue [with city staff].”

Garcia said right now, the department is focusing on the organizational structure part of the policy manual, but when it comes to reviewing “more complex policies such as sexual assault investigations, or use of force, those more challenging policies, we’re very open to dialogue and suggestions from all of you,” he said. 

The department will also pick a new increased focus each month; in January, the increased focus is on “red light/stop sign and crosswalk violations,” Garcia said, adding that while the police department always looks out for those violations, officers will conduct a similar focus during the busy tourist season as well. 

Future enforcement focus topics include speed and noise reduction, impaired driving, and equipment violations.