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Taylorsville Journal

Cottam, Gray named chief and deputy chief of the still-forming city police department

Feb 03, 2021 12:10PM ● By Carl Fauver

UPD veteran Brady Cottam (R) and West Valley City PD’s Todd Gray are the first two hires at the new Taylorsville City Police Department. (Taylorsville City)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Two men with a combined 53 years of law enforcement experience have now been sworn into two of the top three positions in the new Taylorsville City Police Department. But both men say, it could be a while before the third top post in the new agency is filled.

New Police Chief Brady Cottam and Deputy Chief Todd Gray were unanimously approved for their positions by the Taylorsville City Council during the first 2021 council meeting.

With 24 years of law enforcement experience, Cottam shifts to the agency from the Unified Police Department Taylorsville Precinct, where he worked under now-retired Precinct Chief Tracy Wyant.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Gray was hired in from outside the city. His 29 years of law enforcement experience began with two years working for the Salt Lake County Sheriffs Department as a jail employee, followed by 27 years with the West Valley City Police Department.

Cottam and Gray officially started their new jobs Dec. 31, 2020.

“Chief Cottam has both an impeccable work ethic and moral compass,” Mayor Kristie Overson said. “He understands the value of fostering relationships throughout the law enforcement community and is a natural and effective leader who cares about the people he serves. I am impressed with his forward thinking and strategic planning for the future. He is the right man to lead our police force.” 

“I am very humbled and never thought I would stand in this position,” Chief Cottam told city council members. “I am very excited. This will be a great city for our officers to work in. I am grateful to my wife and family. I am also grateful to have Todd along my side.”

Cottam and Gray had originally been tabbed to serve as the two deputy police chiefs under Tracy Wyant when he was named the new Taylorsville police chief in November. The now-retired UPD Taylorsville Precinct Chief then changed his mind, for health reasons. In a subsequent news release from the city, it was revealed Wyant contracted coronavirus. He has since recovered.

“I really admire Tracy; he is a good friend of mine, worked a lot and gave 100% all of the time,” Cottam said. “[Contracting COVID-19] made him consider retiring. He knew he could retire, financially. I think this is the first time in his life he put his health and personal life ahead of the job. I’m happy for him. He has been so selfless.”

So originally, the top three Taylorsville Police Department hires were going to be Wyant, Cottam and Gray. With Wyant’s retirement, Cottam and Gray remain in the picture, but that third top leadership post may not be the next one filled.

“As soon as Todd and I were selected, we began talking about that third person,” Cottam said. “It will be a very valued and trusted person, and I am OK with taking time to make that decision. I have received countless phone calls from people all over the valley who want that job. But we don’t have anyone pegged for it yet. There are other key people who may come along before that [second deputy chief] position is filled.”

Specifically, as the hiring process moves forward for the new Taylorsville Police Department in March, Cottam says some key civilian positions will quickly need to be filled. Additionally, an administrative sergeant will be needed early in the process, to coordinate department training.

In Gray, the new agency not only gets nearly three decades of law enforcement experience but also a seasoned police K9 unit dog handler. The Taylorsville Police Department plans to operate a three-person, three-dog K9 unit, although it likely won’t be up and running on day one, this coming July 1.

“I was a K9 handler for about 8 1/2 years and supervised a unit for a year-and-a-half,” Gray said. “I will be over the K9 unit when we get it up and running. But first we need to write some good policy and procedures. We will look for a good, experienced sergeant with K9 experience to head up the three-person group. It could be six months to a year before the unit is up.”

The new deputy chief also explained why he wanted to shift to the new department after a long and successful 27 years with West Valley City Police.

“I wasn’t unhappy at West Valley and had an awesome career there,” Gray said. “But I have a lot of experience working with Unified Police, and I had seen people lining up to work for the Taylorsville Precinct. It always had a very positive atmosphere. Officers who went to work there stayed. They never wanted to leave. I always wondered what made it so positive, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Also, under consideration at this time is whether or not the new Taylorsville Police Department will operate a citizen advisory panel or a citizen review board. Both of these are becoming more common across law enforcement agencies nationwide, in the wake of well-publicized policing controversies and public protests over the past year. Advisory panels offer general policing “suggestions” to law enforcement agencies, while review boards look into specific case facts involving particular officers.

“We may not have [a citizen advisory panel or review board] in place by July 1, but it is something we are looking at,” Cottam said. “They could give us a lens to look at the department in a different way. I would be a poor chief if I did not let others have a say in our operations. So, we are considering all of the options.”

Cottam also wants to create a “Citizen Police Academy,” designed to instruct the public about what is involved in keeping the community safe.

“We are pretty excited up here, Brady, and thrilled you have taken this responsibility,” Councilwoman Meredith Harker told Cottam on the night of his swearing in, speaking on behalf of the entire council. “We recognize you need our support. We are here for you 100%.”

“[Cottam and Gray] both seem very professional and have lots of experience,” Councilman Ernest Burgess said. “And that deputy chief is a big guy—woo. We are excited about them both.” 

The chief and deputy chief appointments were each approved unanimously by the five-member city council, with no discussion.

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