RIVERTON, Utah (News4Utah) After months of tense negotiations, Riverton City officially announced it will split from Unified Police Department and create its own force.
The search is already on for a new police chief but the city won’t be starting from scratch on July 1, 2019.
“It became clear that we needed to take some action,” Mayor Trent Staggs said.
Mayor Staggs argues the UPD board failed to correct concerns after a departure warning three months ago.
Eight specific problems were laid out in a letter on August 16, 2018, from Mayor Staggs to the Board of Unified Police Department.
Concerns include financial accounting, asset share, transparency, governance, and loss of coverage with Herriman’s recent departure.
Dissatisfied with UPD’s response, Riverton City Council voted to form its own police force on October 23.
“This really acted as a line in the sand,” Mayor Staggs said.
“Of course, I don’t want a city to leave UPD,” Unified Police Department Sheriff Rosie Rivera said.
Riverton leaders plan to hire around 30 officers which are the same number currently patrolling with UPD. The city expects to save $1.1 million a year or have the option to use the extra money to hire ten more officers. or could use that money to hire 10 more officers. Faster response times for the same price, according to Mayor Staggs.
“We think we are going to be in a fine position to be able to afford a Riverton Police Department and not have to raise any property taxes,” Mayor Staggs said.
When Riverton parts ways with UPD, they’ll take millions of dollars worth of vested provisions, including a precinct building, more than 30 police vehicles, guns, vests, traffic signs, and trailers.
The city will also get back their share of the UPD fund balance invested by Riverton taxpayers. Mayor Staggs estimates it to be seven figures.
When Riverton leaves, UPD will lose about $5.5 million annually. Sheriff Rosie Rivera said lost revenue will not greatly impact UPD, since it will no longer responsible for patrolling the city of around 50,000.
“We are moving real progressively to change things, make things better for UPD but Riverton just didn’t want to stick around long enough to see the outcome,” Sheriff Rivera said.
Next year will be the first time Riverton’s policed itself since the early 1980s.