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West Valley police officers offered cash incentive to live in the city

West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo, talks Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. West Valley City officials have announced a new incentive program aimed at getting more police officers to live in the city they serve and protect.
West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo, talks Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. West Valley City officials have announced a new incentive program aimed at getting more police officers to live in the city they serve and protect.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — City officials have announced a new incentive program aimed at getting more West Valley police officers to live in the city they serve and protect.

Officers who buy a house within city limits will be eligible to receive a $10,000 lump sum payment toward the purchase of their home, plus a $200 monthly housing allowance for up to three years. Officers who take that incentive will be required to sign a contract promising to live in West Valley City for at least five years.

A second option would give officers who already own a home or who rent in West Valley a $200 per month housing allowance for up to three years.

West Valley Police Chief Lee Russo said the housing payment incentive was created after the City Council started asking about ways to get more officers to live within city limits.

"It's a strategic goal of the city to increase the number of police officers who work and reside in our city by making them part of the community, letting them share the values, communicate with neighbors, add extra presence inside of our streets. I think this is going to be a very positive program and well-received by the community overall," Russo said.

In addition, the chief wants officers to build positive relationships with the people they are sworn to protect and "make (the officers) part of the fabric of the community."

Currently, only about a dozen of the police department's 200 employees live in West Valley, Russo said. But he said the new program has already prompted interest.

"We've gotten a lot of attention internally. We've had several officers that already have moved forward with purchasing homes in the city. We've also started to get attention from those outside of the city who may be interested in coming and working for West Valley City," he said.

The West Valley City Council budgeted $100,000 for the program. Russo said they will continue to re-evaluate those funds as time goes on based on the success of the program.

Officers can begin purchasing homes and applying for funds immediately, he said. Russo said he did not know of any other police department in the state that offered a similar incentive to its officers.

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