A slight majority of Salt Lake County residents would like to see their law enforcement officers all wearing the same uniform.

According to a Deseret News/KSL survey, conducted by Dan Jones, 52 percent of the county's residents either strongly or somewhat favor the consolidation of local law enforcement, while only 34 percent either strongly or somewhat opposed consolidation. The survey had 248 respondents with a 6.5 percent margin of error.

The numbers reflect the division of opinions about a metropolitan police force among city leaders, especially among those who currently contract for police service or have recently stopped contracting for service.

Taylorsville Mayor Janice Auger said that she is surprised there was not more support for countywide service, since previous polls have had higher numbers. Regardless, she said that she is trying to work out a three-year contract for service with the sheriff, as opposed to the current one-year contracts.

The biggest advantage to working with the sheriff is that she feels like she has more input than she would if the city had its own police department under the leadership of a separate police chief.

"The people who report to me are far more accountable than a tenured police chief," Auger said. "They know that I will have to sign a new contract."

Draper City Manager Eric Keck had a different view and said that his city leaders have wanted more control over their service than they felt they had when they contracted with the sheriff. If a metropolitan force were to be created, it would likely only happen after the county sheriff released its "death grip" on service.

"The county sheriff's office has not, in any way, shape, or form, established the right pieces to allow for local control," he said. "That's the wrong vehicle. There is already too much of a kingdom."

Draper ended its contract with the sheriff earlier this year, and Keck said it has almost gotten its new police department fully staffed. The city has a police chief and all of the sergeants hired, as well as 10 officers.

"We're near the completion of our recruitment," Keck said. "We're running. We're up and going."

Along with those respondents who had an opinion, there were also 14 percent of the people who did not know which service they would prefer, demonstrating that at least some of the valley's residents simply want a police officer to help them when needed, regardless of the uniform.

The respondents' age, income and political party affiliation had very little impact on opinions, as the numbers were nearly identical across the board. Only gender had an influence, with 61 percent of the men favoring consolidation and only 43 percent of the women favoring it.


E-MAIL: jloftin@desnews.com