All Hail the (retiring police) Chief!Feb 01, 2023 04:26PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Draper Mayor Troy Walker and retiring police chief John Eining. The city celebrated Eining’s retirement with a party in January. (Courtesy Draper City)
He’s been one of the “Boys in Blue” for 31 years, the last nine in Draper, but Chief John Eining is hanging up his uniform and retiring from being the head of the city’s police department.
Eining entered policing at age 28. “It’s the only thing I remember as a kid that I wanted to do, so I made my way to the profession and never looked back.” He started his law enforcement career in South Jordan in 1991. He was hired by Sandy in 1992 and stayed there 22 years, eventually becoming a Captain.
He was hired as Draper’s deputy chief in 2014 and chosen to be chief in 2017, a job he didn’t necessarily aspire to. “I had a goal to move up the ranks, but (chief) wasn’t a goal when I started. It just evolved and it ended up that way.” Being chief required him to be more politically minded. “You have to understand your role in city government. Working with the mayor and the city council was something I hadn’t had experience with before. Of course, you have to be responsive to the community. That was not a surprise, but I did more of it.”
He’s complimentary of the city’s leadership and the community. “I think the community is unique in a good way with good leadership, a good city manager, and a strong community. I’m a fan of mayor Walker. The stability of that kind of leadership made my job easier. I enjoyed being out and being part of the community with things like Coffee with a Cop and Draper Days. Any time I could get out and speak with people in the community, that’s what I enjoyed the most.”
He's most proud of having “treated people the right way” and programs he started or sustained. “The proudest thing was I did things right, I treated people with respect, I didn’t cut corners. I was able to work in and start good programs like Citizens Academy, Coffee with a Cop, VIPS (Volunteers in Policing), and the Mobile Command Center.
His biggest challenge as Draper’s chief was personnel-related. “Retention issues is one of the first things…I had to monitor the pay compared to what other officers were being paid in the valley, and help the city understand we need more officers to do more and to be of service to the citizens.” Without competitive pay, the department was at risk for losing officers they’d invested time and money training, something that’s expensive and frustrating to begin all over again.
Regarding the scrutiny faced by police in recent years, Eining said it has hurt his profession trying to get new people to join police departments across the nation, including in Utah. “There are far more openings than there are qualified applicants. We were in a supportive community so we didn’t deal with conflicts like other agencies, but it hurt us as far as the respect level we see on the streets and getting people that want to be in this profession.”
What would Draper residents be surprised to learn about crime in their city? “That it exists. We have a safe city, but we have an element and most of it is drug related, so we do have those issues in our city.”
He’s grateful for tragedy averted during his tenure. “I did not have to go through a line of duty death. Derek (Johnson) happened just before I arrived.”
His replacement, former Provo police chief Richard Ferguson, was approved as Draper’s new chief at the Jan. 10 city council meeting. Eining’s advice to the people in Draper’s police department is this, “Change is always hard, but they’re going to be in good hands. I’m confident in the person that’s coming in to take my place. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.” He praised the people in his police department. “They do a difficult job on a daily basis and they do it well.”
Eining won’t be fully retired yet. Instead, he’ll work in security consulting for Major League Soccer, something he began doing on a part-time basis with Real Salt Lake in 2008.
That advice about change is something Eining will try to heed himself as he heads in a new direction. “I think there’s a certain level of anxiety because it’s change and I’m not really comfortable with change, but sometimes you have to dive into the deep end, go for it and see what happens.”