Police Chief Rich Ferguson has seen a lot in his nearly 30 years with the Provo Police Department. But he probably never expected to see his wife, Sally Ferguson, in fancy evening attire, present him with Utah’s Police Chief of the Year Award from the Fraternal Order of Police.
On Wednesday, Ferguson was surprised with a special well-spaced and sparsely attended award ceremony for his contribution to policing in Provo and as an example throughout the state.
Ferguson has been with Provo police since April 1991. He was made police chief in September 2017.
Usually he would have a gala in his honor held in Salt Lake City with all the tin and tinsel to go with it, but the COVID-19 outbreak has stymied such functions.
His ceremony was held in the Provo Municipal Council Chambers with seven other people all standing 6 feet apart. The only hugs he got came from his wife.
He wasn’t full of self-accolades or long speeches; Ferguson just nodded his head and said, “Thank you. I’m very honored.”
In introducing him in a tape-delayed video of the ceremony, Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said Ferguson was very humble and very shy.
“He is one of my favorite people in the world,” Kaufusi said. “I’ve known him for years. He has always been a man full of integrity.”
Kaufusi said the community, including herself, are blessed to have him as chief.
“I have the best chief,” she said. “He is the man of the hour and this is a much deserved award.”
Brent Jex, president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), submitted Ferguson for the award. He said he knew Ferguson to be a good man and has known him for two decades.
Jex said he would have read the nomination but he wouldn’t be able to hold his composure. However, he saw firsthand how the chief handled the night referenced in the nomination.
The full nomination said, “Chief Richard Ferguson has always been a leader. From his days in Major Crimes to rising through the ranks, he has always been a positive role model to those above him and below. He has been a longtime member of the FOP. To watch his leadership when Joe (Shinners) was killed last year was remarkable. He was there for us, cried with us, prayed with us, and made sure we were all OK, well, as OK as we could be in that situation. For those reasons, I submit Chief Ferguson as FOP’s Chief of the Year.”
Jex said, “It was so well-deserved. I’m glad the mayor wanted to recognize his abilities.”
Some of his officers sent comments including: “I have the best Chief,” “He is an officer’s officer,” “He listens to our concerns, and takes them into consideration,” and “He authentically cares.”
Sgt. Nisha King, Provo Police Department spokesperson, said Ferguson’s 29-year career has been characterized by leadership, duty, respect and care.
“Officers describe Chief Ferguson as an ‘officer’s officer,’” she said. “He considers himself as one of the team and a genuine servant leader with a mission to build his department. He hears what cops need because he talks with them constantly. He knows their families. He knows their goals and their concerns. He tries his best to lift people around him and it shows. Chief Ferguson recognizes the service of people around him, so we are pleased and proud he is being recognized.”