COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS Cottonwood Heights' new police department will have the latest technology, best equipment and cream-of-the-crop officers, said Chief Robby Russo and all of it will come on time and under budget.
Russo's optimism continues when he talks about new police department headquarters and a pending contract with the Valley Emergency Communications Center.
Five thousand feet of office space one floor below the Cottonwood Heights city offices will house detective and canine units, an evidence room with double steel doors and conference and records space.
The space at 1265 E. Fort Union Blvd. will also feature bulletproof glass, space for victim advocates and decor to match the finished upstairs offices.
CHPD will also boast sport-utility vehicles, motorcycles, a squad of Dodge Chargers and canine units.
The acquisitions prove that the city was correct in estimating it would be able to support an independent department, Russo said.
The first of the vehicles, unveiled earlier this month, are the department's most visible sign of progress. The new, black automobiles have been decorated with the city seal and feature everything from Hemi engines to rounded emergency lights designed to improve safety and visibility.
The squad cars will improve fuel efficiency by automatically using only four of eight available cylinders unless all eight are needed, Russo said, grinning from ear to ear.
But Russo's jolly demeanor darkens when he discusses relations with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department, where he was employed for two decades. CHPD Assistant Chief Paul Brenneman, hired early this month, is also a sheriff's department alumnus.
Unlike all other law enforcement agencies in the valley, the sheriff's department won't communicate with the new department, Russo said. Nor will it vacate the precinct headquarters in Cottonwood Heights, though no sheriff's services will be used in the city after Sept. 1.
The sheriff's department decided to continue using the county facility at 7480 S. 2700 East for canyon patrols, said Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak. Other facilities are too far away.
Cottonwood Heights has reached cooperative service agreements with Midvale and Murray and has joined state organizations such as Peace Officers Standards and Training.
"We will provide the same level of support to the city as we do any other city in the valley," Jaroscak said.
The department has also adopted the policies and procedures of the Midvale City Police Department but has signed a contract with a Southern California firm to draw up new policies and procedures. The firm, Lexipol, will also provide ongoing training and updates based on case law changes, Russo said.
CHPD will take over Sept. 1, Russo said. Until then, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department will continue providing law enforcement services under contract.
Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore and the City Council receive weekly updates on the police department, the mayor said. A weekly timeline is being followed.
Hiring decisions have been left to Russo, but finances and contracting have gone through other departments.
"There will come a point where we are less involved," Cullimore said. "So far, it's been a very collaborative effort."
Russo added that Cullimore has been very good to work with throughout the process.
"He lets experts do their jobs," he said.
Overall, Cullimore is very pleased with his city's choice to self-provide for law enforcement."Things have further reconfirmed that the decision was right," he said. "The benefits outweigh the challenges."
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