Sheriff responds to City of Taylorsville’s withdrawal from Unified Police Department

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TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Unified Police Department will lose its third precinct in two years after the Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson announced the city will part ways with UPD and form its own police agency.

The City of Taylorsville is home to approximately 61,000 residents, protected and policed by 60 officers through the Unified Police Department.

“We’ve had a great relationship with UPD. It’s been beneficial for us and for the organization and we’ve learned a lot of things. We love the officers,” said Mayor Overson.

But two years after Herriman and Riverton decided to break off from UPD, Taylorsville will also do the same after eight years of partnership. Mayor Overson, who also chairs the UPD Board’s Finance Committee, cited multiple reasons–including cost.

RELATED: Herriman supports new Riverton Police Department through transition from Unified PD

“It’s not a decision we made lightly. We look at all aspects and of course, cost is one of them because we want to be responsible to our taxpayers so cost is an issue,” she said. “I haven’t talked to the Mayors of Herriman and Riverton in the past week. But I’ve been certainly watching them, their transition, and how it’s working out for them.”

She also said that the current political climate plays a factor, believing it wouldn’t be a wise decision to outsource their police department at this time. Officials said the move comes at a time when models surrounding policing and best practices are at the forefront of collective thinking.

“As you know, there’s a lot of unrest in our valley, in the state, and in the nation. So while we can’t control that, we certainly can in our city. The most important thing for us is making sure we are serving our residents the best way we can as we hone in on this. We’re excited to have an opportunity to start from scratch, tailor it, and make it our own,” said Mayor Overson.

Sheriff Rosie Rivera told ABC4 News her department did not know that Taylorsville was planning on withdrawing from their partnership. She mentioned that one of the disagreements during one of UPD Board’s budget meeting was that some cities wanted to give officers raises, while others couldn’t afford to do so.

RELATED: Taylorsville City plans to leave Unified Police Department and form its own agency

“Taylorsville was one of those cities that wanted to get officers a raise. I had to find the balance. I felt like the budget was a good budget. We were able to present a small raise. But I do believe our officers deserve a lot more from what we’re going through,” she said.

While the separation comes on amicable terms, Sheriff Rivera said losing another precinct will have a measurable impact on the rest of the department.

“We are aware that cities have the opportunity to leave because that’s part of our interlocal. But it raises the question – Does our interlocal need to change? Do we need to find partners who are willing to stay and stay long-term?” she said.

She went on to say, “I’m going to be making the recommendation that we have an interlocal that stays for at least five years because it does disrupt the organization when they come and go and leave like that.”

The Sheriff explained that the impact includes a reduction in size, which will require personnel in some departments to “do more with less.” But one of their objectives will be to review where that discrepancy can be compensated.

“We’ll take a look at the areas where they share services and we can cut some of those services. Taylorsville was a high user of that. There’s a high crime rate there so we’ll be able to make some adjustments,” she said.

She said this won’t be the first time that Taylorsville will have their own police department. The city was incorporated in 1996 and had its own law enforcement agency from 2005 to 2012 before it joined with UPD. Sheriff Rivera was actually a Sergeant for the department during that time.

City officials said the withdrawal letter will be formally submitted to the Unified Police Department at the end of the month. The City Council plans to then ratify the Mayor’s letter at its next meeting on July 1st at City Hall. They will then have a full year to complete the transition to their own police agency and begin operations on July 1st, 2021.

Mayor Oveson said the city will hold a series of focus groups involving diverse communities to gather input on how the city’s new police department should look, its operation, structure, and ways to curb costs that have increased “year over year under UPD.”

She couldn’t answer definitively on Monday if more officers will be added to the city’s independent police agency, but said that would be one of their priorities as they form their new department.

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