WEST JORDAN (ABC4 News) – Sergeant J.C. Holt’s face is familiar to many news viewers because when something big happens in West Jordan, he’s right there at the scene to tell us what’s going on.
As the West Jordan Police Department’s Public Information Officer, we’ve heard Sgt. Holt talking about dozens of incidents but until now we’ve never heard him talk about himself.
“I’m not the typical story I guess you would say that I grew up and thought I would go into law enforcement as an adult,” Sgt. Holt told Behind the Badge.
But at the age of 21, he became an officer with the Department of Adult Parole and Probation.
“I thought you know this looks fun. Maybe I’ll go do this for a couple of years,” he said.
That “couple of years” is now nearly two decades. Sergeant Holt has worked for the WJPD as a patrol officer and an investigator, where he became an expert in domestic violence cases.
He now teaches for the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and helped develop a lethality assessment protocol that’s used by over 70 agencies throughout the state.
It was eight years ago when he was approached about becoming the public face of the WJPD.
“Being a public information officer is something you get voluntold to do,” Sgt. Holt said. “The Department comes to you and says ‘Hey we think you would be good at this and we need help. We would appreciate it if you would be willing to help us’.”
Now in addition to supervising a patrol shift, he often has to drop everything and race to a location to deal with reporters and photographers.
“Sometimes there becomes an adversarial role, if you will, between media and law enforcement and it just doesn’t need to be there. I mean we’re all trying to do the same thing. We’re trying to share the information,” he said. “It’s tricky to navigate because these cases are sensitive so we often get up and don’t tell half of the story of what’s going on and we can’t. We know after an arrest is made, the case has a long way to go.”
He’s been interviewed on numerous high-profile cases such as the April double-murder of Tony and Katherine Butterfield, parents of three young children.
“It was difficult for me just knowing that family had been decimated, you know the parents are gone and the children are left,” Sgt. Holt said. “Then having the responsibility of standing up and telling the story of what we could tell you now and just the emotion of the whole thing. It was heavy.”
Sgt. Holt says it’s hard to make long-term plans when you never know when the next story will break, so he stays in the present.
“Making sure that when I get here today I’m doing the best job that I can today,” he said. “When tomorrow comes I’ll think about tomorrow and I’ll think about it in the same fashion. You know. Just taking it one day at a time.”
Sgt. Holt says he’s approaching 20 years of service and he may think about doing something else one day but until then he’ll keep racing out to accidents and crime scenes to deal with reporters and answer a million questions so that you can be informed.