After several months of debate and public input, the North Logan City Council has agreed not to disband the North Park Police Department. However, with the retirement of the current chief and the exiting of several officers, who will be patrolling the city is still a little unclear.
A letter from council members, distributed to citizens during Wednesday night’s city council meeting read, “we believe the right course of action is to move forward as a participant in the North Park Police Agency.” It went onto say that the council will work with the agency to, “provide the highest quality service possible while pursuing citizens’ direction for fiscal responsibility and accountability.”
Pro tem mayor Damon Cann was a guest on KVNU’s For the People Show, Thursday afternoon. He said the city council unanimously agreed that this was the right outcome, even though there were many differing views from citizens.
“For some people, it was a decision that the cost was worth it,” explained Cann. “For some people, it was a decision about quality of services. For some people, I think, it was public feedback. For some people, it was just a matter of timing. For other people, questions of the ability to directly oversee a police agency that is situated under the city’s control.”
The city council’s decision came after previously contacting Sheriff Chad Jensen. They asked for a proposal, outlining the costs to contract with the Cache County Sheriff’s Office for full time law enforcement services. That proposal was more than $310,000 less than the $1.1 million, proposed by the North Park Police Commission.
While the council considered the different proposals, Police Chief Kim Hawkes announced he was retiring June 30. Several officers also left for jobs with other agencies, and one was called up for active military service.
Cann acknowledged they are down several officers but the agency is not in dire straits. The police commission is already looking at hiring replacements and finding a new chief to lead the agency. They are also discussing the option of joining with the Smithfield City Police Department.
“I think the strategy at this point is really to make sure that we have the right person in place. If we collaborate with Smithfield, we want to be able to take our time and make sure that collaboration gets put together in the right way. If we end up not doing that collaboration and are searching for a chief, I think the attitude for most people in North Logan right now is that we really want to take our time.”
Governing documents for the police agency allows an interim chief to serve for up to a year. That appointment has not been announced yet.
Cann recognized that this has been a “heart wrenching issue,” especially for officers. He said it is the responsibility of the council though to evaluate and re-evaluate the services the city provides, to be sure they are efficient.
“I hate to ever do anything that makes a police officer’s life harder, because a police officer’s life is really, really hard. I have tremendous respect for every person who is willing to put on that uniform and put themselves out there, and literally put their life on the line for this city.”
To cover the additional costs for law enforcement and other departments, the city council is considering raising property taxes by 10 percent.