Like police and firemen in Salt Lake City, police in West Valley City have put their City Council on notice that they are overworked and underpaid.
Unlike police and firemen in Salt Lake City, police in West Valley City have gone about it much more adroitly and with a better sense of priorities, putting public interest first.Anyway, Officer Jim Crowley says he and his colleagues are risking their lives every shift by responding to potentially dangerous calls without backup officers. West Valley police, many of whom are forced to moonlight because of low pay, use outdated communications equipment and drive high-mileage vehicles. And they are dealing with a growing number of complaints from residents concerned about longer and longer response times when it comes to reacting to reports of a crime.
As regularly as the swallows return to Capistrano, May ushers in talk of municipal budget woes in the Salt Lake Valley. And no city departments suffer more in tight budget times than those that provide police and fire protection. It's a continual headache for city officials.
The complaint from West Valley law enforcement officers is, of course, nothing new. The Salt Lake police union, for one, has been very vocal this year over salary disagreements with Mayor Palmer DePaulis, picking up the regular thread of earlier disputes.
But in all the hoopla, when West Valley officers jumped on the salary complaint bandwagon, they did it with style. Crowley, president of the West Valley chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said officers honor their commitment to the public and don't plan to participate in a blue-flu.
They didn't try to threaten the council or take businesses hostage by refusing to patrol. Instead, they simply put the council on notice. They plan to continue stretching resources, continue making do with less and continue handling a high volume of cases.
The West Valley police force has exhibited a professionalism to be commended.