SUNSET — The Sunset Police Department of eight officers is currently down two, and it is struggling to fill the openings.

Sunset Police Chief Ken Eborn says it's because the pay is much lower than surrounding cities.

"We had a handful of applicants drop out of that process when they found out what our starting wage was," Eborn said. "There are people that clearly, by my conversations with them, are saying, 'I'd like to come work there, but I can't for $16 an hour.'"

Eborn shared those concerns with the Sunset City Council in a recent meeting, stating he believes the city needs to either get more competitive in salaries, or turn to a nearby agency for law enforcement services. He said neighboring cities like Roy, Clearfield and Clinton pay starting officers $2 to almost $3 more per hour.

"The size of the city does not necessarily mean it's any less dangerous. It does not mean it's any less important," Eborn said. "To me, it doesn't sit well if we're expecting our officers to do it for so much less."

Mayor Beverly Macfarlane said she's been fielding numerous calls from residents asking city officials to make efforts to pay officers better and keep a local police department.

"Last year, we were voted the safest city in Utah, and I credit our police department with that," Macfarlane said. "They're here to help our citizens ASAP, and that's what we want to have happen."

She said she believes the city can gradually increase the starting salary for police officers year by year, eventually paying similar wages to nearby cities. Although, the idea has yet to be considered by the City Council, and she said other options may arise in future meetings.

"Our citizens totally support our police department and that compensation increase," Macfarlane said.

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com