MIDVALE, Utah (ABC4 News) – A veteran Salt Lake Unified police officer is taking community-oriented policing to the grassroots level. Literally.
You might call Detective Gerry Wayne the long arm of the lawn. As the Executive Property Compliance Officer for Midvale, he patrols neighborhoods looking for overgrown, unkempt and junk-filled yards.
“Detective Gerry Wayne W-a-y-n-e like John Wayne or Batman,” he said. “That’s always how I introduce myself.”
Over the course of his 19-year law enforcement career, he’s been Batman…and a pirate…and even a prom king. That personality and sense of humor serve him well when he’s out telling people to clean up their act.
“A hundred percent compliance on face to face. If I can get a face to face it’s like ‘This is what it is. This is how easy it is. I will even come out and help you if you let me know’,” Det. Wayne told ABC4’s Rick Aaron. “I’ve had one guy that called up and he’s like ‘Hey if you’re really serious about that I could use your help’ and you know I’m like ‘OK’. I have no problem getting my hands dirty.”
That’s why in addition to a badge, a gun and a bulletproof vest, Det. Wayne travels with a weed wacker, a grass trimmer and a portable generator.
“I don’t mind getting out there and picking up garbage or moving stuff,” he said. “You know to get ’em into compliance because that helps them out and kind of empowers them to do a little bit more…It’s my community too. I work in it and so I want it to look good. I want you to have good neighbors. I want you to be a good neighbor and if I can help you be that. I’ll do it.”
The former school resource and K-9 officer found himself in need of help 10 years ago when a retired and blind police dog his family had adopted mauled his 2-year-old son Caleb. While Caleb spent 90 days in intensive care at Primary Children’s Hospital, fellow officers and regular people held barbecues and concerts to raise money for his medical bills.
“It’s sad that it takes a tragedy like that to you know bring everybody together but it was really a cool experience,” Det. Wayne said. “Kind of two communities at the same time…The law enforcement community came together. Midvale came together and I was really part of that family and that was really cool.”
Officer Wayne tells ABC4 that Caleb is doing just fine. He’s now a 6th grader who loves school and despite everything, still loves dogs.
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