PROVO -- Police Chief Rick Gregory announced his resignation Wednesday, nearly two years to the day he started as chief.
While an official last day of service has not been set it is anticipated Gregory will work through at least mid-July. Mayor John Curtis will name an interim chief early next week.
In a letter to the administration Gregory indicated it was a family decision and family comes first. In part the letter reads:
“As many of you know, my wife and I own a home in Ohio and property in Florida. After much thought and internal wrangling, we have decided to relocate to Ohio — a move that brings us closer to our children and to a place my wife and I can call home and put down roots. This is a family first decision.
I have truly enjoyed my 32 years of service to various communities as a police officer, but none more rewarding than the last two years in Provo. I leave Provo with mixed emotions — sad to leave a career in a place that offers so many challenges, opportunities and where we have enjoyed many accomplishments, to excitement about making Ohio our permanent home and the new opportunities there.”
Gregory said it all boils down to timing — it’s good timing for his family and good timing for the department.
“There’s never a good time, but we needed to make a decision,” Gregory said. “The department is in a good place with the direction we’re going, and as I have said, before one person doesn’t make an organization. I hope the community will continue to help and support the police department.”
Gregory came to the police department during a time of low morale and some turmoil within the department. He has been credited with bringing a new energy and excitement to the officers and staff. At the time he was hired, Curtis said he wanted a chief who could work through those issues.
On a personal note, Curtis said, “it’s a loss because I have valued his leadership and friendship. I am a better mayor because of him.”
Lt. Matt Siufanua has served as Gregory’s public information officer and has worked closely with him on community policing. “Chief Gregory is one of the most effective and compassionate leaders I have ever worked for. His leadership pulled us through hard times and put us in a place where we can grow and flourish. We are going to miss him, but we wish him and his family the best.”
In an official press release, the mayor said, “The news of Chief Gregory’s departure is difficult for all of us. He’s been a partner, confidant and friend to our community and me personally.”
Curtis added, “My admiration for him runs deep. His influence and ability to unite our police department has been measurable. Since arriving we’ve seen a significant decrease in crime due to the chief’s passion for community-oriented policing and proactive police work. I’m confident that the momentum we’ve felt and vision we’ve seen will continue. That really is one of the measures of a true leader.”
Greg Hudnall, executive director of Hope for Utah, worked with Gregory on many community issues and considers his leaving a great loss to the community.
“I love him as a police chief. He has created a culture of support and level of caring in the community we haven’t seen in years,” Hudnall said. “Because of his leadership 80 percent of our problems have gone away.” Hudnall added that Gregory’s style is to not only look at the problem but what is causing the problem.
Franklin Neighborhood chairman Bob Allen said, “My first thought is what a loss to Provo. That guy has been incredible for his support of neighborhood programs. I like him as a person, he goes out of his way to see how you are and what he can do for your neighborhood.”
Police Capt. John Geyerman has worked closely with Gregory and said while his leaving is a loss, “he set us up so well to succeed. Our command staff is ready to carry on.” Currently the police department has nearly 100 police officers.
Gregory paid tribute to the people in the city he called home for a such a short time.
“I sincerely appreciate the tremendous support from the women and men of our department, Mayor Curtis, and the community. The positive changes in our department and our many, many accomplishments are a direct result of the great people we have working here. I know that the department will continue to strive for excellence. Please continue to support the staff and Mayor Curtis as the department excels in the future. I have been very fortunate to work closely with Capts. Argyle, Geyerman and Harper and I truly appreciate their work and support,” Gregory wrote.
Two years ago, Curtis’ search for a new chief took more than four months and included a field of 60 applicants. He chose Gregory as the best fit for the city the department and his administration. Curtis said the same system they used to find Gregory will be used in a search for a new police chief. Part of that search involves a search committee from a company outside of the area.
Gregory worked closely with many of the nonprofits and with United Way of Utah County president Bill Hulterstrom.
“My heart breaks to hear this news,” Hulterstrom said. “Rick’s time with us will leave a lasting impression. He’s done so much for the community and the neighborhoods. The community owes him a debt of gratitude for his great efforts.”
Gregory began his service career as a firefighter, then he became a member of the Florida Highway Patrol and worked up the ranks to lieutenant colonel and second in command in the state. He also served as the director of public safety for the county of New Castle, Del., as well as chief operating officer. While he is not retiring, Gregory said he will not be working with a specific police department but will still be actively involved in investigations and other police related activities in Ohio.