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Why Riverton wants to split from UPD

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 17:25:30-04

RIVERTON, Utah -- Riverton City's use of Unified Police as its force took a quick turn Thursday, after a bold move in a 10-and-a-half minute emergency meeting to vote on announcing the city's intent to break away from the agency.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs read a letter that cited several issues and concerns-- ranging from transparency, to money, to questioning whether the city is getting what they pay for.

"The formula to calculate our share of pooled services is not in line with one’s actual use of the services," Mayor Staggs said.

The main reason, he explained, stemmed from a proposed resolution by a Unified Police board subcommittee set to be discussed at a UPD board meeting Thursday morning.

The resolution comes in light of the decision by Herriman City to leave UPD and form its own police agency.

Riverton said the resolution would keep other cities from being able to leave Unified Police.

"If we did not take the action that we took this morning... we would be boxed in," said Riverton City Manager Konrad Hildebrandt, to the board at their meeting. "Some of our choices would be limited."

The one-and-a-half page resolution sets boundaries on breaking away from Unified Police.

It states a city must give a year's notice. If they don't, Unified Police will reduce what assets the city can take with them.

Jeff Silvestrini, UPD Board Chair and Millcreek Mayor, said examples of assets include patrol vehicles and SWAT equipment.

"There are also computers, radios, firearms, tasers," Silvestrini listed off, sitting in the Millcreek city offices Thursday afternoon. "There's a bunch of hard assets like that, that we all have a share in owning."

He said the resolution also covers liability for retirement.

They're now having to figure out assets over liability with Herriman's exit from the agency.

As both cities now express concerns and frustrations to the point of wanting to do it all themselves instead, Silvestrini acknowledged there are issues within UPD that need to be fixed.

"All i can say is we have been working as a board to try to address those issues," he said. "There are some issues with UPD accounting that all of us share, and we're working to fix those and the sheriff is committed to fixing them."

Riverton expressed that their vote Thursday isn't the final decision, and Hildebrandt said it's possible the council could reconsider.

"The city is more than willing to continue working with the UPD board to correct some of the things we feel are an issue," he said.

Silvestrini said they'll work with Riverton in every way possible to come up with a fair agreement.

While that issue hangs in the balance, the recent decisions from Riverton and Herriman have become a topic in the race for Salt Lake County Sheriff.

Thursday afternoon, a release announced a press conference by candidate Justin Hoyal to take place Friday morning, where he's set to discuss the departures.

"Justin Hoyal will address the lack of confidence in leadership with Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera among its numerous partners--including cities, mayors and the police force," the release reads.

After the UPD board meeting Thursday, Sheriff Rivera said the previous board came up with the current policies, budgets, process and cost model that Riverton is questioning.

"There are legitimate issues that they brought up that we are aware of," she said. "I've been dealing with these issues since I was the sheriff. It's something that I inherited from the previous administration and the previous UPD board."