KEARNS, Utah (ABC4) — Kearns Mayor Kelly Bush said Thursday she opposes the bill that will eliminate the Unified Police Department, days after Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera announced her support.
H.B. 374, sponsored by Rep. Jordan Tuescher (R-South Jordan), seeks to dissolve the Unified Police Department by July 1, 2025. The bill aims to repeal provisions governing interlocal agreements for law enforcement services in a county, which puts the viability of UPD at risk since the department’s combined police forces serve many cities in Salt Lake County.
“The UPD currently provides law enforcement services to Kearns, and we will strive to work with UPD to reform their current model and services,” Bush said. “We have expressed our opposition to this bill and will continue to fight this to the end. We are not out of the game on this one.”
On the other hand, Rivera said on Tuesday she is supporting the substitution of the bill because doing the opposite will only prolong the inevitable dissolution of UPD.
“I have been backed into a corner by political forces, and there are no easy paths out,” Rivera said. “I am supporting the bill because I have a responsibility to create long-term stability for public safety for the residents of Salt Lake County and the people who work for UPD.”
The UPD currently serves communities in Kearns, Millcreek, Copperton, Holladay, Midvale, Magna and the southeast portions of Salt Lake County. The creation of UPD began in March 2009 when the governor signs S.B. 131 into law, requiring the Sheriff to serve as C.E.O. of the department. The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office officially transferred law enforcement services to the Unified Police Department on Jan. 1, 2010.
Bush’s statement comes after the township received overwhelming feedback from residents. Kearns, Bush said, is not subsidized by cities or the county, and H.B. 374 is based upon misinformation the township has “worked vigorously to dispel.”
“The metro council wants to start the conversation now and explore with all of you what will fit the needs of our community,” Bush said. “We will be looking at all available options. I am committed to keeping you involved in this process.”
According to UPD, the bill was born out of the many criticisms and concerns about the department, with the most challenging ones being allegations of conflict of interest.
“I am confident there is no conflict of interest and I was deeply disappointed when I was told that the perception of a conflict was enough to run a bill to fundamentally change the UPD,” Rivera said.
The substitute bill passed the House Committee with a 9-4 vote on Wednesday, Feb. 15.