Recently on ETV Channel 10’s “Heart of Utah,” host Randy Johnson sat down and spoke with Carbon County Sheriff Jeff Wood concerning issues and triumphs that the sheriff’s department and the police force in general has been experiencing lately.
Wood is currently the Carbon County Sheriff, having been elected last November. The first issue that Johnson approached was the negativity in the media about police officers in the United States. Wood stated that there is a low percentile of officers being represented in the press today. He said the public does not see the 97% of great things that are done. The problem is that an officer doing his job is not considered newsworthy most of the time.
Sheriff Wood explained that he is doing his best to train officers to take a better approach when handling situations. Officers are trained to make split-second decisions, and Wood wants the public to know that they are well trained and know how to do their jobs.
“I tell my new deputies; always treat people like you would treat your mother,” Wood said.
Coinciding with the issue of police violence in the media, Johnson then brought up that some officers are now wearing body cameras. Sheriff Wood applied for a grant to get body cameras but was denied. Although the grant was denied, some officers still wear body cams. Wood said that the idea is that if you are being videoed while you are working, you tend do your job right. However, Wood doesn’t want the cameras to be a cause for officers to hesitate when they shouldn’t. The cameras are seen as mostly positive, especially because authorities have an immediate access to proof for records.
The third thing that was discussed between Johnson and Wood was a positive for the sheriff’s office. Deputy Shawn Addley was honored as deputy of the year through the Utah Sheriffs’ Association. Wood proudly spoke of how deputy Addley saved a young man and his father from death.
“He’s a good example of our local law enforcement,” Wood said.
Also discussed on “Heart of Utah” was the recent flooding in the area. Wood said that it is challenging for the officers because police are usually the first on the scene and have to deal with the floods as they hit. Last year’s flooding was much more of an issue than this year’s. Wood also said that the main priority is life and limb, but that officers will also try and save property as well. He would like for people to know that floods can occur any time and they should prepare themselves accordingly.
The two then spoke about search and rescue crews, noting they are usually volunteer crews, and are very well trained for various situations. The Carbon County team has great equipment and is very motivated with a vast knowledge of the county. Johnson and Wood spoke on how cell phones are very useful when you’re in a situation where you’re lost, and to always inform at least one person of where you are going when you go into nature or out on your own.
“They are the finest group of men I have ever worked with,” Wood said about the local search and rescue team.
Wood then spoke about the attitude that his deputies are taking with the community. Wood wants to see approachability and community orientation. He wants his deputies to be approachable to everyone in the county. To aid this effort Wood has changed county uniforms from black to green because his department felt black wasn’t an approachable color. Vehicles are changing color as well, and officers are becoming more involved in the community. People will see officers handing out candy on Halloween and making sure kids are safe. Wood also stated that deputies have really enjoyed engaging more with the people of the community.
Wood also said law enforcement has been aggressive with criminal activity in the local area. Officers aim to catch criminals early so that they can be worked through programs instead of just being thrown into jail, while still maintaining public safety.
The “Heart of Utah” is currently in its fifth season on ETV Channel 10. “Heart of Utah” plays Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:30 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Also on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. The episode with Sheriff Wood will air the week of November 23.