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Midvale Journal

Compliance by conversation: Code enforcement changes

Jul 30, 2019 04:24PM ● By Erin Dixon

Unified Police Department Detective Gerry Wayne is the new face of code enforcement investigation. (Photo Midvale City)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

If you have a city code violation, there will be a police officer at your door.

In the past, code enforcement officers were civilian staff. Now in Midvale it is Detective Gerry Wayne from Unified Police Department. His official title, community oriented policing, executive property compliance detective, means that he is approaching code enforcement from   a new angle. 

“They wanted to bring a community oriented policing aspect to code enforcement. It’d be easy to go out and...leave a door tag on, behind the scenes. My job is to actually sit down with the persons...and discuss different avenues to correct it. If it’s something that they can’t do, try to find out about the people that are ignorant to it,” he said. 

The mantra that Police Chief Randy Thomas wants to put forth is “compliance by conversation.” 

In the short weeks Wayne has been operating, his face to face success is 100%. Phone contact? 60%. Note on the door? 0%. 

During a patrol, Wayne noticed a yard strewn with appliances and debris. 

“I could have gone up there and just given him a warning...but I actually talked to him and found out why he had all this stuff out. He had a water break. And I said, ‘The other thing is these items in your driveway, if you need help I’ll help you move them.’ He just was flabbergasted.”

Resident Spencer Mears was approached by Wayne for a code violation. “I met Detective Wayne after he had dropped by my house to let me know about a violation I had with how my car was parked. We talked about how I could resolve it and had a great chat and got to know each other.

“I appreciate that he wanted to get to know people and was making an effort to make those personal connections and understand the situations people are in instead of just handing out violations,” Mears said. 

The role change from a civilian to a police officer is motivated by several factors. One is the image of police officers to residents. 

“I’m fully identifiable with who I am,” Wayne said. “It’s bringing a different light to the police department.” That light is a positive one, that gives residents a good example of what they can expect from Midvale. 

Another reason for sending a police officer rather than a civilian may be to protect them in confrontation. Last August, West Valley code enforcement officer Jill Robinson was killed by a resident she was investigating for junk in his front yard. 

“But, I think the biggest part of it...showing that the police department is here to help you out as well, not an officer that’s going to make you do something,” he said. 

Wayne is willing to have long conversations and help, but ultimately the work needs to be handled by the resident.

Wayne joked, “My chief has actually told me, I’m not allowed to pull out my lawnmower and mow their lawn.”

Thomas, however, has been complimentary of Wayne’s work thus far. 

“He has done some incredible things on some houses that I think (City Attorney Lisa Garner) and I have toiled on in the past.”