Edge ‘always knew’ he wanted a career in Moab

Q&A with Moab’s next police chief

Moab Police Chief Jim Winder speaks his praise for Assistant Police Chief Bret Edge as Mayor Emily Niehaus looks on during a city council meeting April 23. Photo by Carter Pape

Bret Edge has been a stock broker, a photographer and is now Moab’s chief of police. Edge moved to Moab and began training to become a police officer 13 years ago, and since that time, he feels he has connected deeply with the community and settled down here.

Edge told The Times-Independent during an interview Tuesday, the day after the city announced he would be the new police chief, that he had no interest in leaving Moab. He said that he gets a deep feeling of satisfaction from working here that he wouldn’t get working in a larger city.

We talked to Edge about what attracted him to Moab, what he’s found to be the biggest public safety threat to Moabites, and his desire to create more “positive contact” with members of the community. The full interview is available in audio form. Here’s an excerpted version of that interview:

The T-I: You were promoted to assistant police chief in 2018. Was it on your mind at that point that you could become the chief of police?

Edge: I always knew that my entire career was going to be with Moab. I don’t have a desire to go be a cop in a big city. It’s a different type of work and different environment. I’m really tied into the Moab community. We love it here. I knew that this was where I was going to spend my career.

When Jim came in, we sat down and had a conversation—as he did with everybody in the department—where he asked what my mid- and long-term goals were. I told him that my mid-term goal was to become assistant police chief, and long term, I wanted to have his job.

Here we are, so maybe police chief was more of a mid-term goal.

What is the biggest threat to public safety in Moab?

I’m not sure that ‘threat’ is the right word. Maybe “challenge.” This is probably true of most public safety agencies; it’s going to be staffing. It’s really difficult to recruit and maintain good-quality employees. All of the surrounding states pay better than Utah does and have better retirement benefits. It’s difficult for agencies to hire and keep people.

Obviously, it makes it hard for you to do your job when you don’t have the resources you need. The city has been phenomenal with giving us pay increases and doing everything they can do on their side to help us recruit and maintain a really good staff, but there’s only so much the city can do. The state has control over retirement and other things.

You mentioned that this line of work gives you a deep feeling of satisfaction. What is it about police work that gives you that feeling?

I’ll give you an example. Just yesterday, we had a call where someone had pulled out of Sweet Cravings, and the bikes on the back of their vehicle had fallen off. One of the employees of Sweet Cravings went out, grabbed the bikes and brought them out of the road and into the store so that they would be safe, then they called us.

I was getting ready to do the report and book it into lost and found when the owners came running up. They were like, “Oh my God, you found them! We thought they were stolen!” I worked with them to fix the bike rack and get it back in the hitch for them, and they live in Los Angeles, and at the end, she said, “This is weird because, in L.A., a cop would never do this. You would be on your own.” I told them that I was born and raised in L.A. for a time, and there’s a reason I’m not a cop in L.A. I like to do this type of police work, and we have the time to be able to deliver that type of service to people.

It’s satisfying knowing you’re helping people. It’s not always a rack that came out of a car. Years ago, an officer who has since moved up north delivered a baby in a trailer at 2 in the morning. You get to do things that you wouldn’t get to do in any other job.