HOLLADAY — One of the four Salt Lake County cities contracting with the sheriff's department has commissioned a $30,000 study on the feasibility of creating its own police department.

The 8-year-old city of Holladay is in contract negotiations with the sheriff's department but is also considering either forming its own department or joining with nearby cities such as Cottonwood Heights to create a unified police agency, said Mayor Dennis Webb.

"The officers themselves give us good service but we're concerned about adequate service for the dollar," agreed Holladay City Councilman Greg Orton.

The city supports a Senate bill in the Utah Legislature that would allow cities to form such an agency, Webb said. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Mike Waddoups, R-Taylorsville. It has not yet been reviewed by a committee.

Titled "County Sheriff Law Enforcement Duties Amendments," the legislation is similar to a bill that Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder helped kill during the 2007 legislative session.

Bonneville Research won the contract from Holladay to perform the study in 2007. It was told to wait until now to begin gathering information.

The father-son research group that makes up Bonneville Research performed a feasibility study in 2007 concerning the creation of a Cottonwood Heights Police Department. Cottonwood Heights decided to do so.

Bonneville also conducted a feasibility study on Riverton creating its own police department. Riverton, on the county's southwest side, opted to stay with the sheriff's department.

Winder was unavailable to comment on Holladay's study but in the past has expressed extreme dissatisfaction with small cities opting out of contracting with his department.

Webb said Monday that Holladay hasn't had problems with the sheriff's department, but that the study was commissioned to help city leaders get the best public safety service possible.

"We have a very good working relationship with the sheriff's department," agreed Holladay City Manager Randy Fitts. "We want to do this in a very slow, methodical way."

The Bonneville study was commissioned before Cottonwood Heights elected to split from the sheriff's department. However, that city pulling out brings new concerns for Holladay, Fitts said.

"You've got to maintain a critical mass," he said of the sheriff's department. "How much can you cut before you start to affect the organization?"

Fitts is also concerned that changes in the sheriff's budget could drive its contracting prices up.

Orton, charged with working toward negotiations with the sheriff, shares concerns with Fitts.

"We're concerned about the kind of control the sheriff is willing to give," he said.

Webb said he is unsure how the city will proceed. He has yet to form an opinion on the matter and believes other city leaders are also undecided.

"There's not a strong movement here right now to do anything but get that information," he said.


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