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Draper Journal

Community-based policing will continue under new chief

Jun 02, 2023 10:27AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

Richard Ferguson came out of retirement to lead Draper’s police department and his first focus has been preventing accidents by patrolling areas where they commonly occur. He’s even pulled people over on his commute to work. “I am still a police officer, so when I witness things, I act on it,” he said. He was chosen as Draper’s new police chief after John Eining retired.

Ferguson’s new colleagues filled council chambers for his swearing-in ceremony and he expressed gratitude for their show of support. “Law enforcement is one of the most noble professions there is. Police officers choose a life of significance. I’m very excited. My wife Sally is equally excited…to get me out of the house,” he said. 

Though he wasn’t looking for a job, city officials approached Ferguson with the opportunity. “I was given his name by several law enforcement officers that I think have their finger on the pulse of what policing is in this day and age. I’m 100% confident this was the right choice,” said Mayor Troy Walker. At the swearing-in ceremony, Ferguson affirmed he’ll continue Draper’s tradition of community-based policing. 

Before adding his name to the list of candidates, Ferguson confirmed that his vision aligns with the mayor, the city manager and council. His willingness to take the job was also cemented by the community’s response to the tragic loss of one of their own nearly a decade ago. “When Derek Johnson was killed, I was a police commander in Provo…I remember watching the support the city gave this department and I remember thinking that’s an outstanding community. Cops pick up on things like that,” he said. 

Ferguson’s father was a police officer, his brother-in-law is a police officer, his cousin was a firefighter, and his wife retired from working as a 911 dispatcher in Provo (something she still does on a reserve basis). “We have a big commitment to public safety in our family,” he said. 

He grew up in San Diego, came to Utah in the 1980s to work as a ski instructor, and went back and forth. But there came a point when he decided to stay. He graduated from the Utah Police Academy and took a job with Provo’s police department in 1991. He worked there for 30 years, rose up through the ranks, and served as Provo’s chief from 2017-21.

He and Sally retired two years ago. They traveled and worked as ski instructors at Deer Valley Resort. “We had a lot of fun, but she could tell I missed law enforcement. When the opportunity came to be considered for Draper, I was immediately interested,” he said. 

Three months into the job, he’s had a chance to sit down with each member of the department for one-on-one interviews. “The prior chiefs did a great job of hiring. It’s exactly the department I believed it was, full of dedicated, outstanding people. Police are purpose-driven and service-oriented people and I try to inspire them, letting them know…they live a life of significance, and what they do matters.”

Draper’s police department marks 20 years of existence this July. The main change Ferguson sees under his leadership is inevitable growth. “The city will continue to grow and so will we to meet the needs of our community. Our biggest focus is always going to be on quality of life and protecting the civil liberties of our citizens and guests.”

He has encouraged officers to focus on patrolling accident-prone areas, knowing accidents are a hassle in the least and life-altering at worst. The majority of them are caused by distracted driving. “We just ask people to put their devices down and pay attention, especially to their speed during inclement weather.” Ferguson said there’s no such thing as ticketing quotas or citations to generate revenue, only that the focus is on public safety. 

Like Eining, Ferguson wants residents to be the eyes and ears of the community. “See something, say something. It’s never a bother for us to go out and check. We’d rather that and find there’s nothing wrong than know someone saw it and chose not to report it,” he said. “We’re here to serve you.” λ