Kamas Police Department now fully staffed
With two new officers on the street in Kamas, city councilors and the mayor are not interested in dissolving their police force and hiring county deputies to patrol the town.
Mayor Lew Marchant recalled Friday that officers have been visible in Kamas since marshals patrolled Main Street when he was a kid.
"I think that the citizens of Kamas, and I know the current City Council, including the mayor, feels very strongly that Kamas City needs their own police department," Marchant said.
But the Kamas Police Department appeared to be in turmoil when former Chief Errik Ovard was charged last year with misdemeanor domestic assault and unlawful detention.
Last January, after Ovard pleaded no contest to the charges in Third District Court, officials suspended his certification to practice law enforcement in Utah for at least two years.
City councilors named Kamas Police officer Adam Jones as Ovard’s replacement.
"We’re excited about the two new officers we’ve got," Marchant said, adding that former Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy Brad Smith replaced former Kamas officer Scott Mark in the two-man department.
Mark briefly challenged Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds for the sheriff’s post last spring. He retired form law enforcement shortly after he withdrew from the political contest, Marchant said.
Jones, a 27-year-old Kamas native, had worked as a Sheriff’s Office deputy for three years.
After some in Kamas blamed Edmunds for pushing for Ovard’s suspension the City Council perhaps chose Jones to help mend fences between the agencies.
"They did ask me a lot of questions about the county and my relationship with them," Jones said during a telephone interview Friday. "I’m sure it played some role."
Jones estimates he has responded to roughly 160 calls since he was hired last spring. He insists, however, that crime in Kamas is still "very low."
During his tenure Jones hasn’t used physical force to subdue suspects, adding, "there have only been a couple of incidents when I’ve had to ask them twice."
"My plan is to stay here and help the police department grow," Jones said, adding that a future hotel is slated for construction in Kamas. "You start doing that and you start getting more businesses in and it’s going to force the police department to grow."
He hopes the department’s relationship with the Sheriff’s Office continues to improve.
"Without the Sheriff’s Office Kamas City would be a really tough department to run," Jones said. "We depend on the Sheriff’s Office for their expertise."
Edmunds added, "We’ll just continue to work hand in hand."
Meanwhile, Jones says his age doesn’t mean he’s wet behind the ears.
"Law enforcement is ever-changing," he said. "Me being as young as I am, I can stay on top of that."
Like Marchant, Jones says the "residents of Kamas really seem to like to have their local law enforcement here."
"I think [the Kamas Police Department] is probably here to stay," Jones said.
The department’s annual operating budget fluctuates between $128,000 and $160,000 depending of whether the City Council is preparing to purchase a new cruiser, Marchant said.
"Our police officers are involved in just about every operation in the city," the mayor said, adding that officers in Kamas are paid between $13 and $21 per hour. "These guys are available even if they’re not physically on duty. They’re available 24 hours a day."
Roughly eight applicants were screened before councilors hired Jones, Marchant said.
The mayor says he encourages his officers when they can to assist Sheriff’s Office deputies on calls in unincorporated parts of the county.
"I’ve been first on the scene to several calls in the county," Jones said about traffic crashes that have occurred near Kamas. "If we can get there first on scene and get things rolling it gives the victims in the accidents a better chance of survival."
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