MORONI—Robert Hill, police chief in Moroni since August, 2020, was fired last week, but as of Wednesday, no official reason had been given for the action.
Mayor Paul Bailey could not be reached for comment. A staff member in the city office said the mayor might be out of town.
While the mayor has the power to fire city employees, the termination apparently occurred following a rare closed session of the city council Thursday, Feb. 17.
Before the closure, the council passed a motion citing the section of the Utah Open Meetings Law that permits meetings to be closed for “discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual.”
Hill has not only been police chief but has been the only full-time officer serving Moroni, which has a population of about 1,500. The city also hires part-time and reserve officers to cover some shifts.
Following the termination, one resident posted a petition on Change.org calling for Hill’s reinstatement while another resident said she was starting a petition in support of the termination.
As of Wednesday, 201 people has signed the petition on Change.org calling for Hill to be reinstated. Melody Brunson, who started the petition, posted a comment saying, “We are a small town here in Moroni, and our 911 calls or policing needs will now be serviced by the county Sheriff’s Office. They are already spread so thin.
“My family has only lived here for six years, and we have seen how it has been a struggle just to get someone to take the job. Our police chief, Robert Hill, has been exactly what we need. He serves fairly and according to justice and the law.
“…Officer Hill stays calm in all situations. He de-escalates all situations whether citizens are upset or even in pain. He does not respond to emotional outbursts with his own agenda… He is everything a police officer should be. He is exemplary.”
In her post, Carter said, “We need a new police force in this town who will be ethical, fair to everyone, not just his friends…We pay a lot each month and deserve to be respected and safe and trust in our law enforcement. It’s not about how many tickets you can write, but about doing what’s right for our town.”
“…I’m 100 percent behind the mayor’s decision, and I’m sure he had absolute good reasons for his decision to fire Officer Hill.”
Before moving to Sanpete County, Hill was a corrections officer at the Salt Lake County Jail and a recruiter for the Utah National Guard. He also spent a year in Iraq as a non-commissioned officer supervising medical clinics.
About six years ago, he bought a former ward chapel in Moroni, which he and his family restored as their residence.