SANDY, Utah (News4Utah) – The Sandy City Council approved Interim Police Chief Bill O’Neal to become the new Chief during their meeting on Tuesday. Councilors pressed him on how to improve morale after the former chief was fired.
Former chief Kevin Thacker was fired in April by the Mayor after reports that he inappropriately touched female employees. Thacker insisted that he was just a hugger. A report later revealed many were bothered by it but didn’t report it for fear of retaliation or that it would get someone in trouble.
“That culture is done, it’s over,” said Chief O’Neal. “If people feel the need to come forward or they want to address something. They are more than empowered to come forward.”
The chief said they’ve already implemented policies that superiors must report any concerns to HR even if the employee doesn’t want to file a report.
Councilman Randy Osborne also asked about the low morale and questioned how the chief would deal with it.
“As long as you’re truthful, you have integrity, and you’re consistent in your actions, and you’re fair,” said Chief O’Neal. “I think you can improve that morale over time.”
The chief said some of his main points of focus include getting his department fully staffed, and expanding mental health programs to deal with the stress of the job.
Chief O’Neal also mentioned a desire to get back to a “customer service” style of policing which he said it difficult when officers are having to respond to so many calls.
“We have to do these little extra steps that normally officers sometimes don’t do because they’re too busy moving,” said Chief O’Neal.