County to address law enforcement in small towns |

County to address law enforcement in small towns

Aaron Osowski, The Park Record

Although neither a Coalville nor an Oakley Police Department currently exists, Summit County has realized that, legally, even small incorporated towns like those should be required to provide for local law enforcement.

Park City and Kamas are the only two municipalities in the county to provide law enforcement in their cities. Coalville, Oakley, Francis and Henefer all have no local police agency, and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office ends up responding to most incidents in those municipalities.

Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said in a Jan. 8 County Council meeting that he hopes to address this issue, expressing concern that the county is not following the law.

"State statute says that the mayor of each municipality has to ensure they have law enforcement in their own communities," Jasper said. "In Park City and Kamas, the mayors have fulfilled that. We have no formal agreement in other cities, but the county has provided law enforcement."

Jasper said the county does have to respond to a municipality in the case of higher-level incidents and major felonies. The Sheriff’s Office does not, however, have to respond to a city for a violation of a city law or ordinance. When that city does not have local law enforcement, the Sheriff’s Office often ends up responding to those incidents.

"I understand [these towns] don’t have a whole lot of money, but the law’s the law," Jasper said. "They can’t just defer to the county, from my perspective."

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Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said it probably would not be feasible for these small towns to create law enforcement entities anytime soon, but added the county needs to be reimbursed for the services they provide to them.

"We’re trying to make the smaller municipalities realize they’re being heavily subsidized by the county," Edmunds said. "We’re trying to get them to pay for the services they’re getting."

Edmunds said about 15 to 18 percent of the Sheriff’s Office’s calls are to towns on the East Side. Taxpayers pay roughly $150 per call for those incidents and subsidize those towns about $1 million per year, he added.

The Sheriff’s Office also handles the majority of calls in Kamas, Edmunds said. Kamas’ small force deals with 40 percent of all calls mostly low-level misdemeanors. The Park City Police Department is the only self-sufficient municipal law enforcement agency, he said.

"There’s been a philosophy in this county that [the Sheriff’s Office] is going to pick this bill up," Edmunds said. "Municipalities like Coalville, Oakley and Kamas are having to pay for these services in other counties."

Jasper is looking to meet with the mayors of Coalville, Oakley, Francis and Henefer regarding this issue.

"It’s unfair to charge people outside [those towns] who pay [into] the Municipal Fund. There’s an equity issue here," Jasper said. "We’ve known it’s been an issue for some time. It’s time to address it."

The county will be proposing an interlocal cooperation agreement with Coalville, Oakley, Francis and Henefer, in which each city would pay the county a yearly fee for the regular presence of Sheriff’s deputies. However, nothing at this time is official.