West Valley City’s embattled police department has new chief

Posted at 9:55 PM, Aug 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-27 23:55:58-04

From patrol officer to chief, Lee Russo has done just about every job in law enforcement throughout his career.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he says “changing culture” is one of his strengths and that’s partly why West Valley City chose him amongst 36 applicants in a nationwide search that began in May.

West Valley City officials formerly announced the hiring of Russo as the city’s new police chief Tuesday afternoon. He comes to Utah from Covington, Ky. where he was the city’s police chief.

“He brings real world experience, not just keeping the seat warm where he’s been but enacting change, not being afraid to ruffle some feathers to make things happen,” said West Valley Mayor Mike Winder.

Russo has nearly three decades of experience in law enforcement, including more than 20 years in Baltimore County, Maryland.

While in Covington, Ky., city officials stated that Russo reduced violent crime by 25 percent.

“On top of that we were able to reduce community complaints about our officers and improve the professionalism of our officers,” Russo said.

He said that’s what he’ll bring to West Valley City.

“The strategy is to work collaboratively,” Russo said.

One idea is to increase community outreach.

“Once a month, open the doors of the police department to host a meeting for any citizen, elected officials or business person to come in, talk about what’s going on in the police department, the good, the bad, the ugly,” Russo said. “I am at the helm, we’re going to work together and improve.”