SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Police Department is pleading their case to the City Council as they hope to get a major boost in funding from the city budget to help them hire dozens more officers.
Make no mistake, Police Chief Mike Brown fully supports Operation Rio Grande, which has arrested many people selling drug to the homeless population near Pioneer Park. However, it has been a drain on their resources. Brown says, “Some of the work that we used to do is being hampered by [the fact that] we just don’t have enough cops.”
The department has been able to find $1.4 million to hire more officers, but, there is still a gap to fill. So, the department is asking for a budget amendment to help them hire 27 more officers. Brown says they’re hoping to have around 500 officers overall to handle all of the responsibilities they have. “If we got that other 27 that we’re talking about, that would put us right around 500,” according to Brown.
The department has opened up their application process year round and they can take transfers from other police agencies, however, “We feel we’ve used up the pool of those applicants. There aren’t that many people looking to switch, these days,” according to Detective Greg Wilking. When new recruits come into the police force, Wilking says it takes roughly 23 weeks to get them through the academy, and another 15 weeks to give them training in the field.
City Council members seem supportive of the increased number of officers, but, they say paying for the resources to cover Operation Rio Grande shouldn’t fall squarely on their city. Council member Erin Mendenhall says state officials have been promising more funding for a while. “My question to the state is, ‘How do we start to connect with those funds as we’re looking at increasing officers to meet that dispersed criminal need?” she says.
The council will hear public comment about the budget amendment on the 28th of this month.
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