5 questions for the chief of Taylorsville’s new police department

The city’s contract with Unified Police ended on July 1 and its new department is on the job.

(Photo courtesy of Taylorsville City) Brady Cottam has begun work as the police chief for the new Taylorsville Police Department.

The City of Taylorsville has parted ways from the Unified Police Department and as of July 1, the new Taylorsville Police Department is taking the lead on protecting public safety.

After a year of planning, calls were dispatched to a new line at midnight on Wednesday last week and new officers started making their first rounds to get to know the town and the department’s systems.

The move is intended to lower costs and have more control over decisions regarding police services, city leaders have said. With 63 officers working in this new precinct of 10.85 square miles, there will be about one public safety officer per 1,000 residents in Taylorsville.

Brady Cottam, the city’s new chief of police, has worked in law enforcement for 24 years, serving as a Unified Police Department executive officer, field training officer, SWAT team leader, investigation supervisor and UPD range director. He has been assigned to posts in Kearns, Magna, Millcreek and Cottonwood Heights as well as Taylorsville, where he held the rank of lieutenant in UPD.

What will the new police department mean for residents of Taylorsville?

There won’t be any drastic changes in how this new department will work, in terms of response times or how officers react in emergencies, Cottam said.

What this new force is aiming to change is the relationship between the officers and the community, establishing a better rapport, he said.

“Our officers are encouraged to be proactive, meaning, you know, if it’s 3 a.m. they’ll be looking for bad guys, doing bad things,” Cottam said. “So, I think there’ll be a sense of ownership that maybe they haven’t had in a while.”

Was recruiting a whole new force challenging?

There were more than 200 applications for the 63 spots that were created as the city designed the department, he said. The officers came from 13 other departments in Utah, and all were required to have completed a field training program to be eligible. There is a mix of newer officers and a few veterans.

The department has not created statistics about the gender or racial and ethnic diversity of its hires, Cottam said. But one out of the 10 sergeants in the force is its highest ranking woman, he said.

The two deputy chiefs are Todd Gray, who worked for 23 years at the West Valley City Police Department, and Brett Miller, who served in different police departments, including the former Taylorsville police department. The city, incorporated in 1996, initially contracted with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, then had its own police department from 2005 to 2012, when it joined UPD.

According to Cottam, the success of the hiring process was due to offering a better support system for officers. Last year, during the COVID-19 lockdown and protests against police brutality, many city council members shared negative remarks towards officers, he said, but some members from the Taylorsville council expressed their support for the force.

“Here you have a city council, the city council member that is in a public meeting, saying how much she personally cares about this police department and the members of the police department. That’s something that maybe they didn’t feel at their previous department,” Cottam said.

For officers, this demonstrates that there won’t be a “guy who takes the fall for the department” if accusations of misconduct arise and that officers’ evaluations will be meticulous, Cottam said.

What are officers being paid?

It depends on their experience, but it ranges from $27 an hour for new officers to $37 an hour for veterans who have reached more than nine years of service, he said.

Does the department have an accountability unit? How will it work?

The department will have an internal affairs process to evaluate each claim of misconduct against its officers.

“We’ll listen to people, we’ll make sure we have all the facts,” Cottam said, “and we’ll make sure that we make the right decisions that are fair, to everybody, to both our community and our city leaders and our employees.”

The internal affairs team will ask people who have complaints to go to the station at 2600 W. Taylorsville Blvd. to give their accounts of the facts. A planned online form is not yet available, Cottam said.

The agency will make sure to review officers’ body camera footage when applicable and decide whether they need training, counseling or disciplinary actions, he said.

If an allegation is made that an officer has committed a crime, Cottam said, the internal affairs team will pass the case to an external agency, which could forward it to a district attorney’s office for further investigation or evaluation.

“I feel very confident and comfortable that I can stand before our community, members of our city leadership and say, we’re not covering up anything,” he said.

There is not a civilian review board overseeing this department yet, but that would be in the works in the future. “We’ll have some sort of board, we just haven’t figured out if it’s going to be civilian, if it’s going to be outside entities, or who it will be,” Cottam said.

How can people share concerns with the new chief?

Cottam invites public comment through Taylorsville’s website and its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. He can also be reached through the police department’s phone numbers: 801-840-4000 (non-emergencies) and 801-963-5400 (during business hours).

To report a crime or request to speak with an officer, call dispatch at 801-840-4000.

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.