Monday, May 7, 2012

Unified Police Department

The administration's proposed budget includes a savings of $557,331 by contracting for all police services through the Unified Police Department. The Mayor anticipates that it will mean an increase in service for the city, as we will keep our same police officers but they will have access to more resources. 

The UPD model helps Taylorsville retain control of the law enforcement functions but helps us take advantage of “economies-of-scale.” UPD is an entity that pools services with several cities and unincorporated Salt Lake County. We already contract with UPD for dispatch, evidence, and records management. This budget proposes that we contract with UPD for all police services.

UPD has an eight-member board that acts as the decision-making body. This board is made up of three county reps (since unincorporated SL County makes up such a large part of UPD), and five reps from other contract cities. Mayor Russ Wall is already a member of that board. It is this board that makes decisions on contract costs for the involved cities. Every year they figure out how much it would cost an entity for their contract based on a pre-determined costing model. The individual entities can then decide if they want to fund that amount, or choose a higher or lower amount, depending on what kind of service (how many officers) they would like. 

Some believe that UPD is the same as Salt Lake County. But they are two separate entities. (Separate bank accounts, separate boards, etc.) When your mayor is a member of that UPD board, he/she has a say in how the contract costs are figured. It is not likely that the mayors are going to let one city get an advantage over another, or let UPD gouge an entity. The UPD model prevents that from happening.

The UPD also has a fund balance, like a savings account, for equipment and other items that need to be turned-over. Because of this, UPD would front the cost for Taylorsville getting their fleet up to par, an expense that the Taylorsville City Council has not adequately funded. Since having us part of UPD is a benefit to all the cities involved, UPD is willing to take our old vehicles and fund our portion of the fund balance. 

If Taylorsville wanted to dissolve their association with UPD, they could after three years. If they dissolved, Taylorsville would get to keep all equipment and assets. 

Many of the Taylorsville police officers are in favor of going to UPD. When officers need training now, it decreases our staffing. With UPD, resources may be reallocated to cover the short term loss.

Besides Taylorsville, Midvale, Holladay, Herriman, and Riverton are partners in UPD. They have had nothing but good to say about the partnership. The "economies of scale" help each city take advantage of pooled resources.

One question that often gets brought up is how the police fee would affect Taylorsville. It would not. The police fee was a method that the unincorporated areas - Magna, Kearns, and Millcreek - used to charge residents for their police services. It has nothing to do with UPD or Taylorsville and was done away with. 

Here is an article that appeared in USA Today about UPD... Cities merge police agencies in light of budget realities.

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