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GARLAND, Box Elder County — Linda Bourne is out as police chief in this small town, 23 years after being named the first woman in Utah to hold the position.
Garland Mayor Scott Coleman said he made the decision to fire Bourne because the town’s police department has not been effective.
"It was something I’ve been contemplating for at least six months. … It had been six months and nothing really had changed so I felt it was time to make a change to someone that would actually make the changes that were necessary,” Coleman said Tuesday.
He said surrounding agencies and local prosecutors were dissatisfied with the work of Garland police.
When I get people that are in law enforcement and the legal profession telling me that we're ineffective ... I took that to heart.
–Mayor Scott Coleman
"Usually you get complaints from people who are breaking the law,” Coleman said. "When I get people that are in law enforcement and the legal profession telling me that we’re ineffective, that’s where, you know, I took that to heart.”
The mayor said Bourne, who became chief in 1992, wasn’t fired for citizen complaints or misuse of funds. However, the small four-person department was underperforming despite requiring 35 percent of the city’s $1 million budget, he said.
Coleman recently reached out to the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office and Tremonton Police Department to see if they would be interested in contracting their services to Garland so the town could save money. His conversations with those agencies were eye opening, Coleman said.
"One of the things that both of them said is, 'If we took over your police work we would not hire any of your officers.' That struck a chord with me that obviously there’s a problem if no one wants them,” he said.
Coleman said it was his prerogative to fire Bourne, but said the Garland City Council unanimously supported him in the decision. The mayor ultimately decided to keep the police department after receiving feedback from residents saying they want a local police force in the town of about 2,400.
A new police chief will be named in the next few weeks and that person will be in charge of evaluating the department’s remaining officers, according to Coleman.
"I don’t want to drag this out any longer than I have to,” he said of the interview and hiring process.
Contributing: Cleon Wall