Sheriff Jamison Wiggins (left) and Chief Deputy Mike Palmer were sworn in the month of January. [Facebook photo]

In February, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office received 1,100 calls through dispatch and 448 emergency 911 calls, conducted 387 traffic stops, made 10 arrests, and served 28 papers. All of those stats were posted, along with the stats from January, to the GCSO Facebook page as part of newly-elected sheriff Jamison Wiggins’s goal to be more transparent with the community. Wiggins won the November 2022 vote by 55% against Curt Brewer. 

Now, two and a half months on the job, Wiggins is extremely busy. In a conversation with the Moab Sun News, he outlined what he hopes his time as sheriff will look like, and his expected challenges. 

MSN: What are your main goals? 

Wiggins: When I was running for sheriff, I ran on the goal of becoming fully staffed, and adding a code enforcement position and creating the Major Crimes Task Force. The Major Crimes Task Force is now created, and we have a commander in charge of it (Michael Miller, who brought his drug-sniffing K9, CJ). That’s a great thing to have. 

I had zero input on this year’s current budget, so I can’t get another code enforcement officer for this year—but that’s definitely something I’m going to budget for and implement next year. 

As far as being staffed, we’re fully staffed in dispatch, we’re one position short in corrections, and we’re two short on the road. But we’re in a position that we haven’t been in in a long time. The reason we’re not fully staffed right now across the board is because of two things: equipment, and we’re having a hard time finding vehicles. We don’t have any spare vehicles. If we did, I could easily get the road fully staffed—same with equipment.

MSN: Why is having a Major Crimes Task Force important? 

Wiggins: Having a designated task force will be great—it’s funded by the Department of Homeland Security and Grand County. We can have overtime shifts funded by the DHS, and certain deputies can sign up for those shifts to target things like human trafficking, drug interdiction on our highways and the interstate, and internet crimes against children. 

That’s something else we’ve done since I’ve been the sheriff—we’ve signed an MOU with the attorney general’s office, and their task force targets internet crimes against children as well. We’ve already taken down a suspect in the county. We’ve been super busy. 

Michael Miller was sworn in in February. [Facebook photo]

MSN: Why do you emphasize engagement and transparency with the community? 

Wiggins: Before I was a police officer, I was always frustrated by the lack of information provided by the sheriff’s office and police department. As a taxpaying citizen, I was always wondering what they were doing—I would see their vehicles at a gas station and I would instantly become frustrated because I knew nothing about what was going on. 

I always wanted to be transparent as sheriff. We post a lot to social media, and we go to the Grand County Commission meetings—if I don’t attend the meeting personally, I’ll have somebody from my office attend. I’ve been trying to provide a lot of information about what we’re up to—how many calls come into dispatch, how many traffic stops and arrests we’re making. It’s good for the community to know what we’re up to, they don’t feel like they’re in the dark. I haven’t heard one negative thing about it: everyone seems really excited. 

MSN: What challenges are you expecting? 

Wiggins: We’re having a really hard time finding equipment—some manufacturers are telling us certain pieces of equipment are eight to nine months out. I ordered a new bulletproof vest, and I was told it’s seven months out. I can’t hire anybody if I can’t give them the necessary equipment: there’s a huge shortage for some of the things we’re relying on. 

MSN: What is the balance in Moab of working with the city police department, and in the region in working with other sheriff’s departments? 

Wiggins: I’ve definitely been creating some interagency relationships: Chief [Jared] Garcia and I have a really good working relationship, which is fantastic. We share a ton of information back and forth—the Moab Police Department is going to be utilizing the same computer system the sheriff’s office uses, which is great, because then we can share information really easily.

I have a good working relationship with the Utah Highway Patrol, the [Southeast Utah Group of] National Parks, and the Bureau of Land Management. I also have great relationships with Sheriff Huntington in Erie County and Sheriff Lehi of San Juan County—if we need something, they’ll come running. 

MSN: Do you have anything else you want to add? 

Wiggins: I look forward to coming to work every day—I’m excited to be in this position, and I hope I can make everybody proud.