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South Salt Lake Journal

Danielle Croyle tabbed new SSL police chief, but not without pushback

Feb 09, 2024 03:38PM ● By Travis Barton

Danielle Croyle (left) sits next to Mayor Cherie Wood as she answers questions from the council during a January meeting. Croyle was named the SSL chief of police. (Screenshot)

The South Salt Lake Police has seen its fair share of news recently. 

Questions were asked of how the police department’s leadership handled a lieutenant retiring late last year after a DUI conviction which led to further inquiries about the department’s culture. 

Former police chief Jack Carruth retired at the beginning of the year, marking 10 years at the position, which Mayor Cherie Wood wrote in a memo to employees was always the plan. 

But city officials hope the time of upheaval and controversy is behind them after Danielle Croyle was approved in a 5-1 South Salt Lake City Council vote in January to approve the mayor’s new appointment. Croyle previously served as the city’s public information officer. She selected Lt. Ryan Cram as her deputy chief. 

Croyle was scheduled to be sworn in on Feb. 1 (after press deadline).  

In her presentation of Croyle to the council, Wood said she focused on what type of leadership could take their police force to the “next level of service and professionalism” establishing a “culture of trust and collaboration.” 

“We have the building blocks for success,” she said. “We just need the glue to bring it together. I believe Danielle Croyle is the person to accomplish these goals.” 

Wood identified Croyle’s experience as an executive officer with South Salt Lake for last four years, her time working in the FBI’s Salt Lake field office and 25 years with the Ogden Police Department.

She further pointed to Croyle’s abilities to “establish exceptional working relationships” and contribute to overall success of the organizations she’s worked for, as well as her continual analysis, quality control, best practices and customer service. 

“I’m confident this fresh and vision-driven thinking is just what the police department needs,” Wood said. 

In response to prepared questions from the council, the first goal Croyle said was listening to the officers by creating working groups to drill down on ideas, concerns or issues from the officers so they can implement best practices. 

“The best to review the department are those doing the work,” she said. One of those working groups is already facilitating a change to the department’s mission statement to better streamline its objectives.

Croyle said she planned to continue the homeless resource officers model that’s been set and work with the Civilian Review Board in addition to fostering communication with the community through coffee with a cop and the business watch meetings. She emphasized an importance to engage with the youth and all cultures that they weren’t “just here to enforce but be a community partner.”  

A few residents spoke prior to the vote with one man James (last name wasn’t given) said he felt the mayor made the best decision by bringing forward Croyle. He said she was already a great chief and community participant, pointing out the simplicity of the hire. “It’s not rocket science.” 

“This is the case of a good person who can command a great police department, and we need to support that and make that happen” he said. “If you question that then you need to go home and take a nap.” 

Susan Bowlden said she was impressed with Croyle’s answers to the council, but was concerned about the timing of the vote. The vote was Wednesday, Jan. 10, with the Croyle announcement from the mayor’s office coming the preceding Friday night, Jan. 5. 

“Three days isn’t enough time to make such a large and important decision,” she said. 

Recent accusations of the department’s leadership need to be taken seriously, she said, before making an inhouse appointment. 

Bowlden suggested making her interim chief and having an investigation before finalizing the choice. “Perception matters,” she said. 

Former Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt endorsed Croyle as police chief having previously worked with her. 

“You’ve seen her direct efforts in your community,” he said before adding this appointment would “maintain momentum of the department’s success.” 

Two other letters from Croyle’s former coworkers at the FBI were read by the city recorder describing her as collaborative, receptive to feedback, high emotional intelligence and growth potential. 

Not all of the council was convinced however. Councilmember Paul Sanchez spoke at length about concerning behavior among the council in light of the recent KUTV News investigations into the city as well as the process to select Croyle. He said he received a call from a retired FBI supervisor the day before the vote that told him she had a detrimental impact at the department in her 15 months working there. 

Sanchez wanted to “look at her time and investigate it,” adding he wanted town halls on the decision and “a fair and transparent process.” Sanchez was the lone dissenting vote on the council. 

Councilmember Nick Mitchell, in his first council meeting since being elected in November, abstained from the vote. He said the vote “feels like it’s being rushed,” and wanted to “know more before making a decision.” 

Mitchell highlighted two interactions with SSL police based on his and his son’s race pointing out one was great while the other was terrible, acknowledging there is “change that is needed.” 

Councilmember Natalie Pinkney felt the controversy overshadowed the real issue: the council lacks “real legislative authority.” She appeared to have a problem with the hastiness of the appointment, but noted the rules say it is within mayor’s power and responsibility to “bring forward for advice and consent” her pick for the position. 

“We are a weak city council looking at our rule book,” she said. 

Pinkney, along with Councilmembers Sharla Bynum, Leanne Huff, Corey Thomas and Clarissa Williams, all voted in favor of Croyle as South Salt Lake’s new police chief. λ