City Officials Pay Tribute to Retiring Police Chief Rod Norton
Aug 10, 2015 11:03AM ● Published by Bryan Scott
By Briana Kelley
South Valley - Family members, friends, residents and officers gathered in a packed council room July 21 to honor retiring Riverton Chief of Police Rod Norton. City staff and council took time to remember Norton and thank him for his eight years of service to Riverton. Norton was praised for engaging the community, lowering crime and supporting officers.
“Chief Norton was much more than a chief for the city,” Councilmember Tricia Tingey said.
Norton retires after 33 years of service, including 28 years with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, now the Unified Police Department (UPD). “He was a community chief,” Mayor Bill Applegarth said.
He was appointed Riverton Precinct Chief of Police Services when the city became a stand-alone precinct in 2007. When the sheriff’s office became UPD in 2010, Norton went through a new application process and was retained as Chief of Police Services.
Norton brought a wealth of experience to the job. He previously served in UPD’s detective unit, child abuse services and the DARE unit. He also worked as a public information officer and in community relations. As he was promoted from a sergeant to a lieutenant, he worked in the special operations division and was the executive lieutenant of the air unit. He also served as commander over internal affairs and served in watch command twice.
Norton was a pioneer in his field. He was one of the very first planners for the 2002 Olympics. He also helped build a new precinct building for Riverton City. Before, buildings had been rented and the precinct did not own any structures or buildings.
Norton and his staff did not have any references or guidelines for new building construction. Norton explained that the new building is a “purpose-built building.” They have a special room for children interviews, domestic violence coordinators and a state-of-the-art evidence room. They also put a lot of detail into small things, like the camera systems and layout.
When asked what his most memorable achievements were as chief of police, Norton said that building relationships of trust and developing a highly successful department has given him the most pleasure.
“I’m proud of the style of law enforcement and the model we have developed. That model has been a community-based model. It has never, never been an ‘us versus them’ but a problem-solving attitude. If it’s important to them, it’s important to us,” Norton said. “For the past 27 months, our crime statistics have dropped every month.” He attributes this drop in crime in part to community relations and involvement.
Norton said that the biggest challenges facing Riverton is educating citizens to help them understand why the police force does what they do and what the rules and legal guidelines are. “That’s where the community partner model made a difference,” Norton said. “We held citizen academies to help citizen leaders understand what we do and that made a world of a difference. Trying to get the citizens to see through our eyes like we tried to see through theirs was the most difficult but the most rewarding. That takes a caring attitude.”
During Norton’s service the precinct partnered with South Valley Services to deal with domestic violence issues. Norton also created and strengthened the Citizen Advisory Group, a program that gives citizens a chance to explain problems and concerns from their perspective. Finally, Norton retained a DARE officer during 2009 budget cuts and strengthened communication with school officers and detectives to effect changes in the lives of children. Norton hopes that these programs and practices continue.
Norton retired July 15. Lieutenant Rosa “Rosie” Rivera has been appointed as the new Unified Police Department Riverton Precinct Chief of Police.