A look at the candidates for Utah County Sheriff 2018

by John Mulholland

With the current Utah County Sheriff not seeking reelection, the field is open for these four candidates.

Jim Phelps


Jim is a lifelong resident of Utah County and has served 25 years as a US Marshal. He started working in Salt Lake City and has been able to stay in Utah throughout his career. He has performed many roles, including the coordinator for the FBI’s violent crime task, he created a violent fugitive task force, oversaw the federal inmate program, and served on the Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit. He said that the role of a marshal is very similar to that of a sheriff and that it covers many of the same duties but at a federal level.

Jim Phelps

Jim is concerned that with all of the growth, small problems will keep growing. He is concerned with the growth of gangs, drugs, human trafficking, and sexual predators. Heroin is a huge problem in Utah County. He said that one of his informants has told him that cartels are putting a much bigger focus on Utah County. The dealers feel they will just get a slap on the wrist if caught here. He doesn’t want to incarcerate first-time offenders but put them through recovery programs. He does want to know their drug source though.
In order to solve the problem, we need to seriously address more things now. Jim would also like to see some judges, especially those who get in the way of law enforcement and mistreat victims, retire. He wants to develop relationships with people instead of the bullying and militaristic attitude that can sometimes prevail in a few officers. Officers need to re-engage with the community and you can’t keep unproductive officers. Treating citizens respectfully starts at the top.

Darin Durfey


Darin Durfey

Darin grew up in south-central Utah but moved up to Utah County in 1984. He has been married to his wife Val for almost 29 years. He has been in law enforcement for 28 years, including 23 years with the Utah County Sheriff’s office. Darin has worked in many different roles including director of the sex crimes task force, a hostage negotiator for the SWAT team, and is currently the undersheriff.

Darin is very concerned about attracting, recruiting, and retention of deputies. He sees a lot of growth bringing an increased demand for services and an increase in bad behavior. Darin is also very concerned about the growing opioid epidemic. Domestic violence is also a huge issue. He said 85% of homicides in Utah were domestic violence related. He has worked with Senator Bramble on HB 333 to enhance penalties, although it hasn’t passed yet.

He has noticed that homelessness has become a bigger problem up the canyons which has caused many ecological issues with human waste and garbage issues in our canyons. He would like to see the commission limit time there to three days. Mental health issues need to be addressed.

Darin wants to see the Sheriff’s Office engage the community to address community problems and help them understand more what the office does, including having tours of the various functions of the Sheriff’s Office.

He wants to see the continuation of programs for prisoner rehabilitation like jail industries, teaching them culinary skills and teaching them additional trades. He has overseen programs, such as chain breakers which provides individualized discharge plans for inmates including providing mentors provided by the LDS Church. This program has seen tremendous results in reducing recidivism with 73% of female participants not returning to jail in the first year of the program.

Mike Smith


Mike is the current Pleasant Grove police chief. He is a graduate of the FBI and served 18 years with the Utah County SWAT including being a team leader. He was the forward operations commander for 12.

Mike Smith

Mike has worked with the county and been a reserve for the sheriff. He wants to bring in an outside perspective to the office. He has a background in municipal policing and wants to make sure that the office works closely with residents. He is concerned with the lack of quality and quantity of officers being hired. He would like to make it easier for citizens to participate in programs like citizens academies and honorary colonels.

He would also like to see officers engage in things like service when there is a code enforcement issue that the property owner can’t handle by themselves. He has done internal affairs and has seen what happens when officers don’t hold each other accountable. If you don’t tell the truth you get an awful stink with him. He has made it clear to his officers that lying will end your career.

He uses body cameras and told how having an early camera system exonerated him over a complaint about how a speeding ticket was issued. The complainer backed down after knowing it was recorded. He just signed a contract to fix the data storage problem they had on their end.

Michael Freeman

Michael has served 16 years with the UHP. He has dealt with many different facets of law enforcement, including homicide and gangs. He helped the FBI go after gang leaders and narcotics. He also worked with Operation Rio Grande.

Michael Freeman

Michael has lived in Orlando and Sacramento and see what happens with growth. He doesn’t want to have to play catch up as they did with Rio Grande. He has worked with many different people and wants to make sure that the right people are put in the right places. He knows it is a big job and has plenty of people he can lean on for help when needed.

He feels that community policing is very important. He wants officers to take the time to stop and talk to kids. They will tell you anything and good relationships need to be built up. These relationships can be used to help them stay out of trouble.
He believes that police need to keep improving and that the technology they use also needs to get better.

Liked it? Take a second to support Utah.Politico.Hub on Patreon!

Related posts