Letter from Mayor Staggs: Is UPD Still Right for Riverton?

upd-buildingAs you may know, the Riverton City Council called an emergency meeting regarding the intent to withdraw from the Unified Police Department. With many having questions regarding the move, and following feedback from a town hall meeting held on the subject, it is important to understand the facts that have caused our concern.

Public Safety and Number of Officers Serving in Riverton:
With public safety being of utmost importance, it is disheartening that as our population and costs have grown, the number of officers in our precinct (27-28) has remained the same. There is not a clear policy on how officers are allocated to the community, and city leaders have little say in this. Additionally, with Herriman City leaving UPD in September, city leaders are incredibly concerned about the level of officer coverage along our western border, as it is often Herriman UPD officers that respond to this area.

Cost to Taxpayers:
Our costs have increased dramatically since joining UPD. Costs for direct precinct personnel and operations is about $3.3 million, with total costs of $5.3 million. So we pay almost $2 million for access to rarely used "pooled services." This pooled service cost has doubled since joining UPD, despite the fact that our usage remains relatively low. This suggests we are subsidizing other areas with money that could otherwise be used to provide increased public safety resources in Riverton directly.

Loss of Assets:
UPD’s proposed change to the withdrawal formula will have a detrimental effect on Riverton taxpayer assets, and is what caused the Riverton City Council to submit intent to withdraw.  Having invested millions of dollars in the organization since 2009, the original agreement entitles Riverton to receiving all our assets back. Changing from the current agreement, without the consent of Riverton and other communities, is underhanded and dishonest to our citizens. It would be nothing short of theft of the assets that our taxpayers have invested over the years, and a threat to our citizen’s public safety.

A Note from Mayor Staggs:
It is important to note Riverton is generally pleased with the UPD officers that serve in Riverton, though staffing levels for a city our size are very concerning. With the amount of money we pay, and given our share of existing assets, our own analysis shows we could have at least 10 more officers in our precinct with minimal startup costs, and still have access to specialized services when needed. From a public safety perspective, 10 more officers in Riverton would be a significant positive improvement and bring us more in line with cities comparable to our size.

Elected officials have a duty to protect residents and protect the taxpayer. This is done by ensuring we are getting the best service for the best price.

We are attempting to work through our differences with UPD right now. If we are unable to resolve our concerns in the coming weeks, then the city intends to follow through with its notice to leave UPD and create a Riverton Police Department by July of 2019. Self-providing law enforcement is something the clear majority of cities in the state and county do for their citizens.

Feel free to reach out if you have questions or would like more information.

Yours in service,

Mayor Trent Staggs