MANTUA, Utah – Police staffing problems and budget issues for the small town of Mantua. The chief of police is let go after only eight months and other officers resigned shortly after. Town officials say they’re going to have to make significant changes if they want to have their police department fully staffed.
Town leaders are not explaining exactly what led to Chief Michael Castro’s dismissal, other than to say it stemmed from “behavior unbecoming” of a police chief. Mayor Mike Johnson says their police department is run by part-time officers, and when the chief and the other officers left, it left them with a skeleton crew.
“We still have two part-time officers that are working for us,” Johnson says.
While the town handles the department’s staffing situation, Johnson says the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office will help when needed.
Johnson says, “The sheriff’s office has told us they will come up here and handle calls if we don’t have any coverage of our own. It’s no different than several other communities in the county.”
Town leaders also say Castro spent much more than he was supposed to, although the spending wasn’t one of the reasons for his termination. Johnson says they had to rearrange budget items and dip into their rainy day fund, so they’ll have a balanced budget, for now.
“[That covers] this year. We just can’t continue as we were. We’ve got to make some adjustments,” he says.
Johnson says there are still a lot of questions about what they should do. The town could decide to stay under the umbrella of the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, or it could contract with another law enforcement agency. They also could find different ways to boost revenue to have their own department better staffed.
“We are going to set up a meeting for the townspeople, an open meeting where we can discuss a method of funding the police, such as a tax increase.”
Johnson believes the public meeting will happen mid-April.
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