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Safety is prime concern

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When I started my law enforcement career 20 years ago, Salt Lake County had about 425 deputies, not counting jail officers or support personnel. While the land area of the unincorporated county has shrunk slightly due to annexations, the population of the unincorporated county has grown substantially.

As a command-level police officer, I have attended a great deal of management training and have earned a bachelor's degree in law enforcement and a master's degree in strategic leadership. In all my training and contact with many law enforcement agencies, it has been a given fact that a law enforcement agency must have at least one sworn officer for every one thousand population. For the first time I am aware of, Salt Lake County now has less than one officer per thousand. The national average is 2.3 officers per thousand population. Salt Lake City has 2.2 officers per thousand population.

As a city councilman, and in eight years of public service at the city level, I have learned that you cannot allow a reduction in public safety, and that it is a difficult, costly and sometimes painful process to play "catch up" in this area.

Salt Lake County recently donated almost $900,000 to a golf tournament that was not even held in Salt Lake County. At the same time, one county councilman was recently quoted in the Deseret News as saying he would "not allow public safety to be degraded." Action by the county mayor and council recently resulted in the reduction of almost 90 deputy sheriff positions. I would suggest that the Salt Lake County Council is more concerned with other issues than public safety.

The donation amount would have saved over a dozen deputy positions. Similar actions and a modest tax increase would have saved the rest. Citizens in the unincorporated county should voice their concern and attempt to redirect the interests of the county mayor and council to things with importance, such as public safety, instead of luxuries, like golf tournaments.

Andy Burton

South Jordan