Criminals don't care, and probably don't often know, what police jurisdiction they're in when they break the law.

But police care. So do politicians.Now a state legislator wants those who care and those who're affected to get together and hash out the issue of a prospective all-county police department, once and for all.

It's not a new concept. In fact, some police officials believe metro law enforcement is an issue that's already been discussed and explored to death.

That's where they want to leave it. Dead and buried.

But at least one legislator believes the issue hasn't been looked at enough or in the right way. So Rep. Perry Buckner, D-West Jordan, is sponsoring a bill that would form a task force to look at forming a metro police force and/or a metro fire department.

Buckner's had plenty of firsthand experience with the debate.

For 18 years Buckner worked as a Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy and listened to the good and the bad and witnessed the ugly associated with discussions about metro law enforcement.

"It's something that's been talked about in law enforcement circles all of my life," Buckner said.

The debate centers around two things: autonomy for cities and the coordinated consistency of one department. Now, there are 13 police jurisdictions in Salt Lake County, including one school district police department.

Those different agencies with different responsibilities and authority are confusing to police and residents, say supporters of metro law enforcement.

"Everybody's looking for the same bad guys," he said. With metro law enforcement, "we'd be able to coordinate these efforts."

But that already happens, according to local police chiefs who oppose the idea of a countywide department. In fact, the only local law enforcement official who's ever spoken in favor of a metro department is Sheriff Aaron Kennard - Buckner's boss.

"If we need to combine resources, we already do it," said West Jordan director of Public Safety Ken McGuire. "We don't need to do it (create a metro department). It's not an issue for us here in Salt Lake County. I don't understand the need to create legislation, if all the agencies are working together as they should be."

He said bigger is not better and it can't be cheaper.

"If there are cost savings in cooperative efforts, we're already doing those things," McGuire said. "We're (police chiefs) just saying, `Where's the need?' "

The bill is currently waiting for Senate approval and will be prioritized by legislators among other proposed task force bills. It would cost the state $22,500 to fund the task force for one year.

It's money well spent, Buckner believes, if it helps eliminate turf battles, which he said are common among local police.

"People always point to the metro gang unit or metro narcotics as examples of how we work together and don't need (a metro department)," Buckner said. "But day-to-day patrolling is not (countywide and coordinated)."

Buckner believes there are cost savings to be had and that it's something that has to be seriously discussed before future growth spreads local officers even thinner.

"We have half the national average number of police officers per capita," he said. "We have different training for different police officers working under different policies."

All of that, he said, means confusion.

McGuire and his counterparts, however, believe it means each city controls its own destiny when it comes to public safety.