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What's behind Salt Lake Co. Sheriff's Office split with Unified Police Department?

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jul 01, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office swore in 83 deputies Monday, reestablishing its Law Enforcement Bureau after a split with the Unified Police Department became official.

“It's bittersweet in a sense,” said Sheriff Rosie Rivera. “I loved working for the UPD. I think UPD is a great department and will continue to be, but at the same time, not having to oversee two separate police departments is going to benefit me, my department and my family. It takes a lot of time to oversee two.”

When Unified Police was established in 2010. the sheriff’s office lost its patrol, with the state legislature voting to separate the two agencies last year.

“The sheriff's office has a unique way of providing service,” Rivera said. “We work for the people. Your sheriff is elected by the people, and that's super important when you're thinking about public safety, our community safety.”

One of the biggest changes following the split is that the sheriff’s office will no longer share its building on 3300 South, which means UPD no longer has a headquarters.

“We have transitioned from working at Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office building to now moving more in-house to each precinct,” said Sgt. Aymee Race. “So we have more detectives at those precincts now, our fiscal, our admin are all at those precincts.”

The sheriff’s office will now provide Metro Gang Unit, Search and Rescue and canyon patrol services, but Race said the cities will still have access to the same services.

“For all of us here in the valley, I really don't believe in my eyes there will be much of a big significant change,” she said. “We all still want to serve. We all got in this job to help people, and that's still all of our motivation.”

The change means better service at the lowest cost possible, claims Midvale City Mayor Marcus Stevenson.

“We're actually really excited about this,” he said. “That both comes with a cost savings to our residents that we're not paying for an extra building, but it also means that we're actually going to have more police presence in each of our communities.”

However, Sheriff Rivera believes the split will ultimately hurt taxpayers.

“This split is very, very expensive to our communities,” she claimed. “When you're sharing resources, your costs are much cheaper, and now that we're no longer sharing resources, our costs do go up. We know that. We didn't choose this to happen, but we're making the best of it, and we're trying to be very fiscally responsible.”