Gary Cox has held many job titles over the years, including patrolman, traffic officer, SWAT team member, training sergeant, patrol sergeant, administrative sergeant, lieutenant and captain. His latest title is Salt Lake Community College professor.
Professor Cox teaches Criminal Justice at the SLCC Miller Campus. In his classroom, he pulls from the depth of experience that comes from more than 30 years of police work.
“As a teacher, he’s a funny guy,” says SLCC freshman Garret Plant. “If you ask him a question, he gives a straight up answer or he’ll create a class discussion so everyone can get involved so you can share your opinion, and when he goes over it, he’ll share about different things and personal experiences that he had with it.”
Experience, tragedy and a miracle
Cox had always wanted to be a police officer for as long as he could remember. Over his career, he encountered many difficult situations that tested his will, such as times when arrestees would threaten him or his family. He did not worry about their safety, but other experiences didn’t always end without tragedy.
“The worst experience of my career was when one of my officers was ambushed and shot by a juvenile suspect,” says Cox. “I was the second officer on the scene and found my officer had been shot in the head. He was transported by medical helicopter to the hospital, but died soon after. The suspect was found by one of our detectives within an hour of the shooting, but the young man killed himself before being apprehended.”
There were several other situations that not only tested his will but his humanity and the willingness to help others around him and in his community. He once encountered a situation that he calls “a miracle.”
“One of the best [calls] was when I was called to a ‘medical assist’ where a woman was giving birth. I had the opportunity to actually deliver the baby who came out feet first,” Cox says. “I had a doctor on the phone telling me what to do in that somewhat risky procedure and had delivered the little boy before the ambulance even arrived to help.”
“Less stressful job”
Cox retired from the West Jordan Police Department on Dec. 31, 2009. By that time, he had already been working part-time at SLCC.
“I have found teaching to be a much less stressful job [than police work]. The students are in school because they want to learn, and for the most part, appear to be interested in the things I am trying to teach,” says Cox.
Gary Cox’s classes and office are located at the Miller Campus. He teaches CJ1010 (Introduction to Criminal Justice), CJ 1330 (Criminal Law) and CJ 2510 (Psychology of Criminal Behavior). He is also the faculty advisor for students doing criminal justice internships.
“It’s a good, fun class to be in because he knows what he’s talking about and what he’s teaching, it’s easier to understand,” says Plant.