Rapid growth has West Haven rethinking police services

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Leaders in West Haven say the city is getting closer to building its own police department. (Photo: KUTV)

Leaders in West Haven say the city is getting closer to building its own police department.

The city today pays the Weber County Sheriff’s Department to handle policing, but they say as their population increases, so does their share of the bill.

“Our contract with the Weber County Sheriff’s Department increases every year,” said 6-year Mayor Sharon Bolos.

Eventually, we will have our own police department.

An accountant by trade, Bolos says any decision will be driven by the numbers.

Staff, she says, constantly re-evaluates the projected costs of starting new against the projected costs of the continued Weber County partnership.

Bolos is satisfied with the level of service the city receives from the county and says the increases aren’t unwarranted. As the population rises, so do the number of calls for police service.

But, some residents say police service could be better.

“There’s new subdivisions, there’s new apartments; they’re going to have problems. They need people who can do it all the time,” said longtime resident Haden Davis.

Unfortunately, Weber County Sheriff Department just can’t. There’s not enough of them.

Setting aside the considerable startup costs of a new department, the mayor says right now the county contract would be about half a million dollars cheaper per year. She believes it could be five years before there would be real savings for the city in starting new.

Bolos said West Haven is one of only two cities in Weber County that does not levy a property tax. The other is Marriott-Slaterville, which she says has a broader sales tax base from which to draw revenue. Much of West Haven’s growth is residential — not commercial.

While a tax would allow more flexibility in the public safety planning, she said the last effort to institute a tax was voted down by the city council, under pressure at the truth in taxation meeting.

But for those who feel a local police department would improve quality of life, a new tax is reasonable.

“If I got the cops patrolling stuff I don’t have to have stuff stolen out of my property or stuff broken into, it’s like an insurance policy, I’ll pay for it,” Haden said.

Not everyone sees a public safety emergency.

“It would seem unnecessary,” said Rosendo Neza. “I think there’s more people like me. No one wants to be taxed right now.”