CEDAR CITY – For several years Cedar City Police Chief Bob Allinson has had the perfect view from his upstairs corner office overlooking the old Rock Church on Center Street. During this time, he’s seen many seasons pass from the window he designed in 2001 when he planned the layout of the new building.
Another season is passing in Allinson’s life, but this one isn’t visible in the snowfall or the changing colors outside. Instead it’s evidenced inside the police station today by the empty office that has only ever held his belongings and a melancholy feeling in the air, a silence of sorts, as he says goodbye to the men and women who have served under him.
Allinson has served his community as a police officer in one capacity or another for 41 years – 18 of those have been in Cedar City where he was hired at the onset as the police chief.
Thursday is his last day in that role as July 1 marks the beginning of his retirement.
“All I’ve ever known is putting a gun on my side and a badge on my chest and serving the community,” Allinson said. “So it’s going to be hard to make that transition when all you’ve ever known is work every day and now every day becomes a Saturday. This is going to be a big change for Carol and me.”
A man of integrity, commitment and dedication is how Allinson’s men describe him, adding he is a leader and always a professional.
“If you look up the definition of integrity in the dictionary there’d be a picture of him. Integrity and leadership, that’s what I think of when I think of Chief Allinson,” Sgt. Jimmy Roden said. “He has established a culture of doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do and he has spread that level of expectation throughout the department.”
His ability to lead is seen in the success of the men and women who serve under him,” police Lt. Darin Adams, who will be filling Allinson’s vacancy Friday as the new Cedar City Police Chief, said.
“His biggest ability is to develop other people. You share your vision with him and he sets his expectations then provides the support and the resources to ensure individuals are successful. At least that’s what he’s done with me,” Adams said. “He has passion and drive and he has allowed me to grow and mentored me through the years. His leadership has been a huge part of my success because of how he’s led.”
Many say Allinson’s leadership skills were never more evident than when he was first hired.
“He came to us when our department was in a really rough state and he just brought us clear out of that and just skyrocketed us way above where we were,” police Sgt. Jerry Womack said.
It wasn’t just the department that had problems when Allinson arrived in town but the city. A police officer in northern Utah for more than 20 years, Allinson said he closed more meth labs in Cedar City in his first six months than he had his entire career up to that point.
“It was a huge eye-opener for me,” Allinson said. “I worked four or five years as the commander of the joint task force and two or three years undercover and I took down more meth labs in the first six months here than I did in the 23 years up north.
“Cedar City is an interesting community. We still have that small home town feeling that I hope we never lose but we have our problems and challenges. At one point we had 10 homicides and attempted homicides we were putting through the courts and domestic violence is a large problem here and that’s directly tied to the alcohol and drug problem.”
From meth labs to widespread prescription drug use and a public health crisis regarding child pornography and sex crimes, Allinson has seen the world through the lens of a police officer for 41 years and in that time, witnessed many changes.
But technology trumps them all, he said of the changes, pointing to it as one of the biggest issues in today’s society.
“It’s just so hard to keep up and everything anymore is tied to a computer: how we do our job, how we’re dispatched – I mean it has changed everything and it has brought crimes right to the home,” Allinson said. “They have improved our lives in so many ways but the biggest thing is the displacement and the displacement of family and working together that they’re causing.”
Allinson reflected on when he was growing up and how the community raised a child, not a computer.
“We don’t have that interaction and the community togetherness anymore in society, where a child is being raised by the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and neighbors …,” Allinson said. “Now we have that computer box that we rely on for our entertainment and our interaction. So that’s what I see is these computers are just taking over our interpersonal skills and our interaction with other people. And society needs those family based values.”
Allinson can boast many accomplishments, he said, during his tenure; among them: new and better equipment, newer vehicles, nearly doubling the number of police officers on the force from 22 to 35, the introduction of resource officers into the schools, improving and increasing training for officers and making sure he surrounded himself with good people.
All those things, he takes pride in and assumes some credit for, he said, but there were a few mistakes too; specifically, officers who had untreated post-traumatic stress that got in trouble before he was able to help them.
“Those are the ones I look at as failures in my career on my part,” Allinson said of the troubled officers, “not being able to save those things from happening.”
The chief said he isn’t going to miss the heartaches and tragedies that have been part of his job description – things that make up images in people’s nightmares – murders, abused children, the heartbreak of a mother who has lost her child, accident fatalities.
Allinson has one hurtful regret:
“My only real regret, and it’s not necessarily a bad regret, is that I came down to Cedar City midstream not knowing anybody. So, I never had the opportunity to grow up as a young officer around the other officers and have the closeness and bond that comes with that. I didn’t get the chance of going through the ranks with these guys and working … the streets with them and raising our families together. And I didn’t have that knowledge of the community that comes with working the streets and moving up through the ranks; and I regret that but it’s not a bad regret.”
Still, he wouldn’t change moving to Cedar City, Allinson said.
The chief came to Cedar City with vast experience in law enforcement having served as a patrol officer, investigator, crime prevention officer, member of the SWAT team, undercover narcotics investigator and commander of a joint task force.
His last assignment before moving to Cedar City was as assistant chief of police for the Layton Police Department. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.
When he applied for the position in Cedar City in the fall of 1997, Allinson was chosen from an applicant pool of 80 police officers. Facing some heavy competition from other applicants, Allinson said he wasn’t positive he would get the job, but his wife, Carol, never lost confidence in his ability to secure the position.
“As one of the final applicants I had to come down here and go through an all-day assessment,” Allinson said. “So my wife joined me and I met up with her later in the day when I had a break. She had spent the day looking for a place to live. She drove me to a vacant lot and told me, ‘this will be our new home.’ I said to her, ‘don’t you think we should hold off until the testing is over and we find out for sure if I get the position?’ She looked at me and said, ‘You will get the job and this is where we will build our house and make our home.’”
She was right.
Now, 18 years later, the Allinsons are looking forward to retiring in the community they have come to call home. They will spend their time, the retiring chief said, camping, traveling with their two children and six grandkids.
I’m grateful and thankful for the people of Cedar City giving me the opportunity to serve them.
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