Police chief to take on sheriff
By Pat ReavyDeseret News staff writer
(SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah) -- Assistant Police Chief Beau Babka, one of the more vocal opponents of Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard, says he plans to run for sheriff.
"I've had conversations with my family and key people in my life, and that is a direction I want to pursue," Babka said. "There needs to be some change in the leadership (at the sheriff's office)."
The department needs to be taken in a new direction, Babka said. It needs 21st-century thinking rather than 20th century, he said.
Babka has been one of the most vocal opponents to the idea of creating a metro police force. He said it's time for the sheriff's department to abandon that idea and work on plans that will benefit cities now and in the future.
But Babka doesn't believe the election will simply be about metro vs. non-metro policing.
Problems currently facing the sheriff's department like budget cuts, jail payments and funding the investigations unit should have been taken care of a few years ago before they reached this point, said Babka. There should have been more vision, he said.
"There needs to be a real look at how services are provided and whether we are tailoring those services the best way we can," he said.
Candidates cannot officially file to run until next year.
Kennard, who has been sheriff since 1990, said he plans to run again. But he's not even going to think about his campaign for another year.
"Why anyone would want to have a two-year campaign I'll never know," he said.
Babka said he is only trying to settle rumors that have already been circulating in the law enforcement community by announcing his plans now.
The competition is welcomed by Kennard, who said it should be a good race as long as the candidates stick to the issues and not attack personalities.
He said he expects Babka to have "lots of company" in the race.
Kennard said there have been people critical of him in the past but he continues to work on what he calls the "Abe Lincoln principle."
"I do the best I can, and I'll continue doing that," said Kennard.
Babka joined the South Salt Lake Police Department in 1992 and made a quick ascension. In 1995, Babka made the rank of sergeant. In 1998, he was promoted to captain, and a year later he became assistant chief.
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