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Midvale looks at leaving UPD, creating own police department

Posted at 9:35 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 23:35:20-04

MIDVALE, Utah — After the announcement that Taylorsville City is dropping the Unified Police Department for law enforcement services, another Salt Lake County city is saying they, too, are looking at what it might look like to leave UPD.

Midvale City has been working on a feasibility study for 60 days as the city council weighs the option of creating a city-run police department.

When it comes to putting a price on police services, city staff indicated that they want to make sure they're getting a good deal.

"The primary thing just comes down to: We need to be fiscally conservative with our funds, the public tax payer's dollars," said Matt Dahl, Midvale assistant city manager.

The study is looking at startup costs for a whole new department, as well as annual costs to run that department.

Dahl said a big consideration is the service level, including how many officers would be in the department, and what the department would look like in terms of officer specialists vs. generalists.

He said this has been a discussion over several years and has nothing to do with the current movements to defund the police. It also doesn't have to do with the level of service UPD officers currently provide, he explained.

Their consideration comes after other cities have gone separate ways from UPD. Herriman split off in 2018, and Riverton left in 2019.

"The primary thing that led us to doing the feasibility study had to do with recent budget increases that had been requested by UPD," Dahl said.

He said Midvale pays $8.9 million for their member fee. Early on, Dahl said they thought the cost for the next fiscal year would increase by 7 to 9 percent. However in the end, he said the increase ended up below 3 percent.

Still, the city felt it was still worth looking at — and so far, the preliminary findings indicate it could be cheaper to break off.

"We could provide a similar service to what UPD is providing with a budget that — we had a range that we've found so far — that kind of puts us either having somewhere in savings of around $700,000 up to it costing on par with what UPD's current budget is for Midvale," Dahl said.

The Midvale study comes at the same time that Taylorsville City announced the decision to break away from UPD, also because of rising costs.

Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson said they will have control over the dollars and the amount of police on the street, as well as control over policy and procedure to really bring it back to their community.

Taylorsville's new police department will take over operations in July of 2021.

Both cities expressed appreciation for the sound services provided by UPD, saying this kind of decision is purely about the budget.

Dahl said the feasibility study is expected to be finalized in July, but the city council could make a decision sooner than that.

If they decide to start their own department, the split would take effect in July of 2021, according to Dahl.