WEBER COUNTY, Utah – The cities of Hooper and West Haven are looking into policing their own streets after the Weber County Sheriff’s Office says their current contracts won’t be renewed.
“The goal wasn’t simply to tell them to pay us more money,” said Klint Anderson, Chief Deputy for the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. “The goal was to say, ‘You need to explore your options.’ We’re here to help.”
Like many smaller towns, Hooper and West Haven have contracted with the county for over 10 years. Anderson says over that time, the price tag hasn’t gone up.
“As the community has grown, so has the need for law enforcement services,” said Anderson.
The contracts are for five years, but need to be renewed every year. Anderson says the county commissioners have asked their office not to renew the contracts unless the cost for services goes up. In West Haven the contract would change from $354,100 to $844,837 per year. In Hooper, the contract would have risen from $279,867 to $453,914
“I think it’s kind of crazy in one year for them to triple what we have to pay,” said West Haven resident Jill Rudman. “For a small town, that’s more then we can afford.”
The steep jump is one reason West Haven Mayor Brian Melaney says he’s looking at forming their own police department, with the possibility of uniting with other cities like Hooper.
Attempts to contact Melaney Thursday were unsuccessful, but on the city’s website, Melaney posted this statement:
“Our city will never be left without coverage as the sheriff must respond to calls. That being said, we want something better and have paid for extra coverage in the past and have seen it become less than what we expected with the additional monies we have provided.
"We have an agreement for 4 more years, but the Sheriff doesn't want to honor it. We have spoken and I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interests of our city to have our own police force and am now working to move in that direction.
"I have been in contact with other Mayors and former police chiefs and am doing my homework so I can have something to share with the City Council. I can’t have the city placed in a position of an annual negotiation with the Sheriff’s department and can’t put anything long term in place because they have shown they won’t honor it.”
Anderson says they’re not interested in where the cities get police protection, only that it’s there.