Chiefs of the BYU EMPA Program

PROVO, Utah – Dec 02, 2019 – Being a police chief is a challenging position to hold, but BYU Marriott helped prepare Darren Paul, Chad Soffe, and Chris Autry to serve the communities they love. The skills, lessons, and experiences these police chiefs gained in the EMPA program provided the tools they needed to be successful in their jobs.

As the son of a police chief, Paul grew up watching his father help the community, which inspired him to do the same. After serving as a police officer in Lehi, Utah, for eighteen years, Paul decided to pursue a master’s degree and was referred to the BYU Marriott EMPA program by his city manager, who was an alum.

“Going through the program taught me how to look at issues from a different perspective,” says Paul. “The professors were enthusiastic and passed along their passion for public service to their students.” After graduating in 2014, Paul became the police chief in Lehi, Utah.

Like Paul, Soffe felt a pull towards public service because of a family member’s example. Soffe’s grandfather was the mayor of Murray, Utah, and helped his impressionable grandson gain experiences in the community.

“I distinctly remember when the Murray Fashion Place Mall collapsed after a heavy snowfall in 1972, and my grandfather took me to the site,” says Soffe. “I saw the police officers and fire fighter there, and it influenced me at a young age to get involved with public service.” During high school, Soffe became a police cadet, which became the beginning of his career in public service.

With the goal of becoming a police chief in mind, Soffe recognized the need for a master’s degree and enrolled in the BYU Marriott EMPA program. He graduated in 2016 and currently serves the Woods Cross, Utah, community as its police chief. “The satisfaction of helping others is the reason I have stayed in public service for thirty-one years.”

Growing up in a home focused on service helped another police chief discover his love for helping the community. Whether he was at church, visiting a neighbor, or assisting a stranger, Autry felt the need to help and protect those around him.

As an undergrad at BYU, Autry took a job as a security officer at the BYU Museum of Art. In this role, Autry became aware of the BYU police department and felt the desire to enter the police academy. “Being a police officer seemed to fit my personality,” says Autry. “Although being a police officer is extremely challenging, I think it is one of the most noble professions.”

At twenty-eight years old, Autry chose to earn a master’s degree. “I knew getting an EMPA would put another arrow in my quiver and make me more marketable in the future,” he says.

Autry transferred from the Midvale, Utah, precinct to the BYU police department, and began taking EMPA classes at night. He decided to continue working for BYU after graduating in 2003 and is currently the BYU police chief, making student safety his top priority.

As police chiefs, Paul, Soffe, and Autry have been shaped by their experiences in the EMPA program and are committed to protecting the communities in which they serve. “I love being part of the community,” says Paul. “Helping and serving others is the most rewarding aspect of my job.”

EMPA alum Darren Paul. Photo courtesy of Darren Paul.
EMPA alum Darren Paul. Photo courtesy of Darren Paul.
EMPA alum Chris Autry. Photo courtesy of Chris Autry.
EMPA alum Chris Autry. Photo courtesy of Chris Autry.
EMPA alum Chad Soffe. Photo courtesy of the city of Garland, Utah.
EMPA alum Chad Soffe. Photo courtesy of the city of Garland, Utah.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Nikaela Smith