UPD Millcreek Precinct Officer of the Year 2019
Feb 17, 2020 12:03PM
● By Kirk Bradford
By Kirk Bradford | [email protected]
Burglary, domestic violence, assaults, robbery and sexual offences are just a few of the categories the Millcreek precinct responds to each month. Chief Steve DeBry said, “With so many situations throughout the year, it was difficult to pick just one officer for this year’s award.”
There is one officer in the department serving Millcreek who has helped others in ways that far exceeds just policing duties. Detective Gary Evans has been helping others for nearly two decades. From responding to disasters to helping provide aid during hurricanes Katrina and Rita or the tour served in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Gary Evans has served in many different settings and situations.
The police department averaged 2,500 to 3,000 calls each month during 2019, a steady increase from the year before. Over the year, there were many awards for Officer of the Month and unit praise when officers went above and beyond.
Each year, the department inventories its division and selects an officer to receive the Officer of the Year award based on not just one event but multiple throughout the year. Evans stood out during 2019.
During the award ceremony, Debry read a detailed citation that explained the situations and results that made Evans the deserving officer for the award. Debry praised areas he excelled in, as well as provided examples of his dedication to serve the citizens of Millcreek.
The City Journals connected with Evans to go beyond the uniform and badge and get to know who he is when he isn’t serving Millcreek.
Evans, age 34, said, “I joined the Army at age 18. I enlisted in the Utah Army National Guard as a forward observer for the field artillery unit.” Field artillery units are responsible for directing artillery and mortar fire onto a target, and may be a forward air controller (FAC) for close air support and spotter for naval gunfire support. They also may go behind enemy lines to provide detailed information about enemy locations and targeting.
Evans said during 2007, he was deployed to Louisiana for hurricanes Katrina and Rita to provide assistance to the citizens affected. He helped set up medical and food locations. Following the hurricane relief in 2007, Evans was deployed to Iraq. Evans served for one year overseas.
Evans spent a total of 16½ years in the military and currently holds the rank of staff sergeant. Evans worked several jobs before coming into law enforcement but said he tried “all kinds divisions, none of them gave any type of satisfaction. I put myself through the police academy and was hired by the Salt Lake County Jail and worked there for about nine months before I received the call from Unified Police to be a police officer. I love the job — every day is something new. I enjoy being a detective and taking a case with little to no information and solving the case with an arrest and returned property. I especially love doing the follow-up on cases I am the initial officer for. As a detective I get to find out who did it and where the items are by following the clues; it is enjoyable and rewarding.”
Evans explained the core motivation that drove him to become a police officer: “I have always stood up for others. Even in my youth I would be in the principal’s office for getting into fights or defending others who couldn’t do it themselves.”
“I have worked my whole career in Millcreek and love the area and the people,” Evans said. He also elaborated on some situations that are difficult in the small town. Evans said occasionally, some citizens seem to be entitled, which he understands and is patient with, but “it can definitely be frustrating at times.”
Becoming a detective wasn’t and easy path for him. Evans said he tested for several years to become a detective with Millcreek and didn’t make it. However, he explained, “I continued to work on what was needed and made it on the third attempt.”
When Evans is decompressing he is an avid fisherman and loves camping and the outdoors.
When presenting the 2019 Officer of the Year award, Debry said, “Detective Gary Evans is currently assigned to our street crimes unit; he has excelled in his current assignment during the past year. Evans consistently provided excellent customer service and support and demonstrates investigative prowess and follows through on assigned cases. Victims from many of his cases routinely compliment him on his communication and effort provided throughout investigations in several instances this year. Many of the assigned cases Evans received came with seemingly little to no leads, yet they were solved through Evans’ meticulous investigations.”
Debry talked about many instances Evans excelled. In one example, Evans was assigned to follow up on a stolen vehicle case. The victim’s vehicle was stolen, which contained Native American antiques and several firearms. The property loss was estimated at over $15,000, with many of the items irreplaceable.
Evans was assigned the case on the last day of his work week with only a few hours left in his shift. Evans discovered an arrest was made by an outside agency and that the suspect was arrested, but none of the above mentioned property was in the car.
Evans promptly responded to the Salt Lake County Jail and interviewed the suspect. During the interview, Evans established rapport and explained the significance of the stolen items. The suspect denied having any knowledge of the stolen property. However, he identified others he believed were responsible for stealing the vehicle and indicated they could be in possession of the stolen property. Evans identified the new suspects as well as the storage unit.
Evans continued his investigation and authored a search warrant for the storage location. With the assistance of other detectives, a warrant was served and the storage facility searched. Nearly all of the stolen property was recovered, documented and returned to the victim. Of the firearms that were stolen, one was recovered and two more are currently being tracked down that are out of state.
One other example Debry mentioned involved a case where Evans was attempting to track down a suspect. While holding surveillance, Evans identified a male subject who walked out of the residence under surveillance holding a glock gun case. The subject was said to have paused and looked side to side before walking away from the home. The suspicious action caught Evans’ attention.
After following the suspect and developing probable cause for a pedestrian stop, Evans questioned the subject, who indicated there was a gun in the box and one on his person. The subject was safely arrested. After being transported to the Millcreek precinct and interviewed, post Miranda, the subject admitted to stealing one of the handguns from a vehicle in Salt Lake City the other handgun was stolen from a vehicle in Holladay. The subject also possessed additional stolen property from vehicle burglaries occurring in Salt Lake City and Herriman.
The City Journals asked Evans if he could tell the community a few things about being a police or detective they might not know. Evans said, “You’re hated by some but expected to be there even if they hate you, to help them with their problem. And police officers aren’t made in a factory — we have feelings and we see death constantly, yet we are expected to continue working our shift and pretend nothing has happened and go to the next call and drop all emotions that occurred on the previous call.”
The final portion of Evans’ award citation read, “He is a valued member of the Unified Police Department and specifically the Millcreek precinct. His dedication to his assignments, resolve and hard work is noticed daily. As a direct result, numerous cases have been solved and quality of life improved for the citizens he serves. It is for these stated reasons Gary Evans is Officer of the Year for 2019.”