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There’s a new sheriff in town—and a new Riverton police chief, too.

Nov 02, 2017 12:15PM ● Published by Mariden Williams

“I think that you chose the best person possible.” Salt Lake County Sheriff Riviera promotes Jake Petersen to Chief of Riverton Police Services (Riverton City Communications)

By Mariden Williams | mariden.w@mycityjournals.com

The past few months have seen some exciting changes to Riverton's police force. A few months after saying goodbye and congratulations to the new Salt Lake County Sheriff—Riverton’s own former UPD Precinct Chief Rosie Rivera—the Riverton City Council has selected Jake Petersen as the city’s new chief of police services.

Rivera was elected Salt Lake County Sheriff in an August special election, following the July departure of former county sheriff James Winder. Her historic victory earned her the distinction of being Salt Lake County’s first female sheriff, as well as its first Latina sheriff.

The Riverton City Council bade Sheriff Rivera a fond farewell at its Aug. 15 council meeting, giving a warm round of applause and a standing ovation in thanks for her years of exemplary service.

"We are so proud of her and so happy she is the sheriff,” said Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth. “We have total confidence in her ability to run a major metropolitan police force."

Stepping into Rivera's old shoes is Chief Jake Petersen, formerly Lt. Jake Petersen, who has been involved in law enforcement for almost 20 years.

Applegarth appointed Petersen to the position by way of an advice and consent process. The UPD and the Riverton human resources department put out a call for applicants, who were interviewed by a committee comprised of Applegarth, Councilman Trent Staggs, Councilwoman Tricia Tingey, interim City Manager Ryan Carter and two UPD officers. After the interviews, Applegarth discussed his selection with Rivera, and, on Oct. 3, he brought Petersen's name before the full city council for approval.

Petersen addressed the council with a speech expressing the honor he felt to be in this position and his gratitude to his family and colleagues for all they did to help him get there. He particularly thanked his wife, Shea, who has stood with him through thick, through thin, through the stresses of being married to someone in a dangerous profession—even through an awkward second date.

“I offer my most sincere gratitude to my wife,” he said. “I am so proud that she let me go on a third date with her. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her. I just wouldn't."

He also gave his thanks to Rivera and to all his colleagues in the police force.

“I am so humbled to share a badge and a patch with people who walk into the dark of the night to keep other people safe,” he said. “I look for any opportunity that I can to reach out to my brothers and sisters in the community of law enforcement. If I should be your chief, it will be my absolute privilege to look to my right and to my left, to my team—to make sure that absolutely, they are the most well-prepared, humble, compassionate, service-oriented group of officers that we could work with."

Once everyone had spoken, the city council swiftly and unanimously approved Petersen for the position of Riverton Precinct chief, with little discussion beyond a few words of congratulation.

"I think you just made a great decision," Rivera told the city council as she stepped up to the podium to formalize Petersen’s promotion—the first promotion she has given as county sheriff. "Because I'm a citizen of Riverton, I wanted the best to be able to step into my shoes, because I truly care about Riverton. I knew early on that if I ever left, I wanted somebody that could fill the shoes but also have that same passion for my city. I think that you chose the best person possible to do that. I know that Jake has that same passion for the citizens of Riverton and will serve them very well."    
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