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Draper taking idea of a city police force slowly

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DRAPER — Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard hopes that a delayed decision about creating a city police department is postponed indefinitely.

During its regular meeting this past week, the Draper City Council decided to wait until after its Jan. 18 council retreat to vote on the proposed city police department. They will use the extended time period to compare cost estimates from Salt Lake County and a consultant hired by the six cities that contract with the sheriff.

Mayor Darrell Smith said that while he expects that Draper will eventually have its own police force, he doesn't want to rush into its creation.

"I'm not saying it's an impossibility," Smith said. "I want to do our homework and go about this properly."

During a council work session earlier in the evening, Kennard said that he was concerned about the numbers that were reportedly being used by the City Council to guide their decision. Those numbers include an estimate from city staff that the city could have its own police force for $89,000 per deputy, while a consultant hired by the six contract cities said that the sheriff will need to charge more than $134,000 per deputy.

Numbers provided to Kennard by both the county auditor's office and Salt Lake County Council Budget Analyst Darrin Casper put the sheriff's cost closer to $115,000, while two other self-providing cities of a similar size, Midvale and South Jordan, pay $120,000 and $98,000 respectively.

Keeping the contracts for service with Draper, Herriman, Bluffdale, Taylorsville, Riverton, and Holladay is a priority for Kennard, and he said that he would work with all of the cities to make sure that the costs are fair.

"I'm hoping a lot of this has to do with cost," Kennard said. "You have a fiduciary responsibility to get the best service at the best price. I understand that."

Kennard warned the council that their consultant's $89,000 estimate may not include other costs, such as start-up expenses and specialized services such as search and rescue. Most significantly, they would have to include the costs of felony investigations at the Utah State Prison, which would be in Draper's jurisdiction.

Last week, Kennard — who has spent much of this week working with contract cities — convinced the Salt Lake County Council to consider removing fixed costs from the contracts, especially charges for the county mayor and County Council.

County Councilman Russell Skousen supported the shifting of those costs to all county residents, since many of the services they cover affect people countywide.

"I have a real problem charging the contract twice for the council or the mayor, just as I am opposed to doing that to unincorporated residents," he said.

Draper Councilman Ryan Davies encouraged the City Council to consider signing a six-month contract for police services with the county to give the city more time to decide whether to start its own force. The city has been told by the county it can contract for the fixed price of $98,000 per deputy through June.

"It's a little uncomfortable to me, personally, that it's on us so quickly," Davies said. "I feel uncomfortable being rushed to a decision when there are other options out there."

E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com; zman@desnews.com