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For passers-by, Woods Cross might be just another small town in a string of cities along the Wasatch Front.

For Greg Butler, the incoming police chief, Woods Cross is about to be called home.

Butler, a veteran police officer of 25 years and father of three, moved to Utah earlier this week to take the post. He was selected out of 50 candidates to replace Paul Howard, the Davis County city's police chief of 22 years.

The new top cop brings with him experience as a public information and community police officer.

"Community policing is a policy I've always believed in," Butler said. "I don't want a suit to be what defines me. I want to wear a uniform more often than not."

Butler spent most his career with the West Jordan Police Department until going to Idaho in 2008 to oversee the Montpelier force.

When Butler took that police chief position, he said he had to build the department virtually from scratch. He had no police car, no office, no community rapport.

"Morale was low. He came into a situation where the department needed help," said Sherry Brown, editor of The News-Examiner newspaper in Montpelier. "It has improved greatly."

Butler immediately worked to create a department website and open lines of communication with the community of 2,600 residents.

Thanks to grants, he launched a handful of programs and established new positions, including a victim advocate, a school resource officer and a detective. Monthly lunches with grade schoolers became standard fare for Butler.

"We should be completely open," he said. "The public shouldn't be wondering what we're doing."

Butler's former department recently earned an honorable mention for the Excellence in Victim Services Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Montpelier's small department — with fewer than 10 staffers — competed against 45 other departments with up to 100 officers apiece.

Woods Cross Mayor Kent Parry is confident Butler can bring the same success — along with a "different perspective" — to his city of 9,800 residents. Butler will oversee a staff of 15 in Woods Cross, including 12 officers.

"We're very comfortable in his ability to lead the officers, to instill good morale, to relate well to the community and the residents," Parry said, "and to do what police officers are sworn to do: to serve and protect."

Butler has wanted to be a cop for as long as he can remember. He followed in his grandfather's footsteps and signed up for the police academy. Since his training days, Butler has earned bachelor's and master's degrees.

Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross knew Butler from when they worked together as reserve officers in 1986.

"Our agencies work very closely together and have for many years," Ross said. "Butler will look to enhance what we've been doing for years. Basically, it's just having relationships with each other where our officers are able to help each other out."

Butler is eager to bring new ideas to his new job and establish ties with other departments. More than anything, he said, he is glad to be returning to Utah, where he and his wife grew up and reared their three children.

"We're coming back home," Butler said, "I am excited to be back."

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About Greg Butler

Age • 48

Family • Wife, Shauna; children, Madison, 15, Carson, 13, Hayden, 8.

Education • Bachelor's in criminal justice from Columbia College, master's in public administration from the University of Utah.

Career • 1986 to 1988, Bountiful Police Department; 1988 to 2008, West Jordan Police Department; 2008 to 2011, Montpelier, Idaho, police chief; present, Woods Cross police chief.

Fun fact • Butler likes to go off-roading on his motorcycle on weekends.

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