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Behind the Badge: Unified PD officer uses sales experience while patrolling the streets of Magna

Behind the Badge

MAGNA (ABC4 News) – A Unified Police officer is not looking back after making a career change from high tech to “serve and protect.”

After serving a mission in Russia for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and graduating from BYU, Eric Salway became a husband, a father and a salesman in the tech industry.

Salway was making good money selling computers and software but still, he wasn’t fulfilled…so he abruptly quit and eventually took a major pay cut to pursue his true passion: to be a cop.

“The job was easy but I just was unhappy every day,” Officer Salway said. “I don’t know if I had an early midlife crisis…but I just was like ‘Is this it? Is this all I’m going to do? Am I just here to make someone a lot of money? And me OK? Is that it?’ “

He had always been fascinated with law enforcement.

“Everyone has their rubber-necking but I couldn’t help it,” he told Behind the Badge. “I love police work. I love watching police work, I love watching police officers.”

So, he went to the police academy and got hired by the Sandy Police Department where he served for 9 years before taking a job with the Unified Police Department’s Magna Precinct. Along the way, he’s learned that police work is different than what you see on TV.

“Obviously we expect every day to be guns, shootouts, car chases and solving murders and whatnot. Nah that’s not what the job is,” Officer Salway said. “It’s dealing with other people’s problems all day. You’re kind of almost a salesman as a police officer because people are coming to you and they want you to fix their problem right? They say I need this, this and this done and a lot of times we’re that middleman trying to facilitate.”

They’re mostly minor problems but sometimes they’re life or death, like the time in Sandy when he and fellow officers confronted a man having a mental health crisis.

“We see the guy and he has a gun and he’s pointing it at us and so that puts us in high alert mode,” he recalls. “So we kind of pull ours out and start giving commands and he immediately puts it to his head.”

After a five-hour standoff, the man put his weapon on the ground. He lived because the officers communicated and negotiated.

“It’s not the gun that’s going to save your life. It’s not the taser and blah blah blah. It’s your mouth,” Officer Salway said. “You have to be able to articulate exactly when you come into a situation that you’re in charge. That you’re the one who’s taking control and at the same time make them feel that they’re getting a fair deal out of it.”

This week Officer Salway patrolled the streets of Magna for his final time. You can now find him in the hallways of Cyprus High School where he just took over as the new School Resource Officer.

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