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Unified Police Department starting Friday

'Seamless transition' from county sheriff's office is expected

Published: Friday, Jan. 1 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

UPD vehicles with new logo will patrol unincorporated Salt Lake County and four cities.

Salt Lake County Sheriff

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MILLCREEK — Beginning Friday, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office will stop writing traffic tickets.

But the public will still be expected to follow the law and will be cited if they don't. That's because on Friday, the new Unified Police Department will begin a new chapter in Utah law enforcement history, taking the place of the sheriff's office.

The new UPD will initially look, however, exactly like the old sheriff's office.

"It will be a seamless transition," said Unified Police Lt. Don Hutson. "Literally, the general public will not see a change initially."

The only change the public might notice will be when they call police and the person answering the phone says "Unified Police Department" instead of "Salt Lake County sheriff."

The new UPD, which has been in the making for several years, will cover all the same areas as the sheriff's office — unincorporated Salt Lake County, Holladay, Riverton, Herriman and Bluffdale. But rather than being run by Salt Lake County, the UPD will consist of a CEO and board of directors and will have taxing ability.

Under the bylaws created for the UPD, the Salt Lake County sheriff will also serve as UPD CEO. Sheriff Jim Winder will oversee the officers of UPD but also still attend to his elected duties of managing the Salt Lake County Jail and providing security for the county's district courts.

Winder will give up control of all financial and policy decisions to an administrative board of directors. If Winder doesn't like a board decision, he can veto. But the board can overturn the veto with a two-thirds vote.

The UPD board will have eight members, including three council members from Salt Lake County since it will be the largest region covered by the department. Those members are Unified Fire Authority Chief and Councilman Michael Jensen, Councilman Jim Bradley and Mayor Peter Corroon. They will join the mayors of the other cities in the UPD as well as Taylorsville, which will contract with UPD to use services such as emergency dispatch and the SWAT team, Hutson said.

Bluffdale may leave the UPD in 2010, however, as its City Council is expected to decide early in the year whether to contract police services with Saratoga Springs, create its own force, or stick with the new police district.

For the general public, which is accustomed to having a sheriff's deputy arrive at their business or residence when they need help, Hutson said those people won't see any changes.

"We have the same people we did before. We're still housed in the same location," he said. "People will not see any difference. We have the same employees and the same people that were serving the same people of Salt Lake County before."

It won't be until April that residents will start noticing a visible change.

Initially, UPD officers will also have the same sheriff's uniform and vehicles. But by April, all officers will be required to wear the UPD's new dark blue uniform, badge, patch and have the new UPD logos on their patrol cars. Hutson said a bigger press conference to make residences aware of the police force will be held about that time.

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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