Ken Wallentine is new West Jordan police chief
Nov 20, 2018 02:56PM
● By Erin Dixon
Judge Kunz shakes Chief Wallentine's hand after officiating the oath of office. Council chambers were full of family and supporters for Wallentine during the oath ceremony. (Photo courtesy West Jordan)
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
Ken Wallentine is the new police chief of West Jordan City, replacing Doug Diamond who retired in April 2018.
Wallentine’s family is peppered with highway patrol, county sheriff, deputy sheriff and even includes a great-uncle that was killed by an armed robber. His own family continues this tradition with two children in uniform.
Chief Wallentine has spent 35 years in law enforcement as a beat officer, a public attorney and a prosecutor. He holds a Juris Doctor and most recently was a special agent for the Utah Attorney General.
Wallentine says, however, that his law degree is not the only experience that will dictate his leadership. The role of public attorney, prosecutor and law degree "certainly gives me the skills and the tools to help not only evaluate legal issues in the department and to train our officers to police on a constitutional basis. But, some days I think my greatest strength is that I remember the days that I spent as a street cop,” he said.
“The experiences that I formed as a young officer and my perspective of what people really need in relationships and communication with police—those certainly have been interlaced over my entire career,” Wallentine said.
A police chief sets the tone of the department. The goals and ideals of a chief will trickle down to all the officers.
“I think those formative experiences of being a street cop and seeing police services delivered at the very core level, citizens in need and citizens in distress, those memories are forming more of what I do every day than my education,” Wallentine said. “I am first and foremost a street cop.”
As a leader for law enforcement, Wallentine oversees not only day-to-day management but is responsible for the future efficacy of the officers.
“My responsibility as chief now is to drive forward the leadership role in the police department,” Wallentine said. “That means helping grow, develop young leaders. We have among us the leaders of the future.”
The potential for West Jordan’s growth is immense. There are 6,000 open acres, highways with the potential of becoming main thoroughfares and constant applications to city council for housing and commercial development. From the year 2010 to 2018 the population has grown nearly 10 percent.
“Right now is the time we need to grow the leadership for public safety,” Wallentine said.
Wallentine has spent many hours outside of Utah, training hundreds of officers on the use of force. He worked as bureau chief of POST Investigations Bureau and served on the administrative council for the Utah Department of Public Safety. Most recently, he worked for the Utah Attorney General as chief of law enforcement. Through this wide scope and contact with officers from around the country, he is confident in the officers in West Jordan.
“The men and women of West Jordan are the finest,” he said. “We are not so big that we have lost the sense of community and investment. When I come to Utah, I see very good cops. When I come to West Jordan I see the very best.”
Wallentine will oversee a law enforcement department in West Jordan that includes 122 officers. Seven of those positions are new since the property tax increase in August 2018.
There is potential for the city council to approve more in years to come with that same tax money.
“Recruiting good officers is a challenge,” Wallentine said. “When I started in law enforcement many years ago, I remember distinctly the day that I tested. [I] showed up at the department, and there were three vacancies, but there were over 400 people there to test. Those days are so long gone.”
Wallentine takes pride in his work and service a police officer.
“There’s a lot of joy; I use that word advisedly—going into a situation and helping folks get a little bit of order, a little bit of peace restored in their lives so they can get back to that,” Wallentine said.