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S.L. police insurance plan put on hold

SHARE S.L. police insurance plan put on hold

Salt Lake police officers won't have to pay insurance for take-home vehicles, at least for now.

The City Council voted Thursday to rescind its earlier decision to require the officers to pay $41 per month in insurance to cover personal use of the cars.

"The whole thing (was) as full of holes as Swiss cheese," said Salt Lake Police Association president David Greer. Despite an accident an officer was involved in last winter that prompted the insurance scrutiny, Greer and other officers maintain that the risk of getting in an accident that isn't already covered by city insurance is "microscopic to non-existent."

Nevertheless, officers and city administrators will explore alternatives to the now-defunct program, including obtaining insurance from cheaper commercial firms.

In a public hearing two weeks ago, police blasted City Council members for taking a vote on the matter without hearing public input first. Some of the comments were rather pointed, questioning the council's motives or threatening a lessening of public safety.

"I didn't think it would get as ugly as it got," Councilman Keith Christensen said. "It's OK to be passionate, but it's not OK to be disrespectful and it's not OK to threaten."

Other council members expressed their own disappointment with officers' conduct.

Nevertheless, Greer, whom Christensen singled out for particular criticism, defended the officers' comments.

"I don't need a lecture from Mr. Christensen," he said. "It's my constitutional right to get involved."

Thursday the council passed the city's $151 million budget, in the course of which the take-home insurance discussion was held. The budget also includes a proposed city justice court, which council members want in order to get more attention paid to lesser offenses such as nuisance abatement they believe are sometimes ignored by circuit court judges.

Based on tax rates received from the county the city anticipates a slight deficit. Council members decided to make it up from a hoped-for surplus next year (the city had a budget surplus this year).


E-mail: alan@desnews.com