Unified Police Department Three Years Later
Dec 10, 2015 08:54AM
● By Bryan Scott
By Stacy Nielsen
Taylorsville - As with any change, the decision to join UPD three years ago was not without question and concern from some of Taylorsville’s residents.
“It was a big decision to change from the Taylorsville City Police Department to becoming a fully joined member of the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake,” John Taylor, Taylorsville’s city administrator, said.
Crime trend numbers within Taylorsville City are showing significant reduction since the transition occurred in 2012. The number of overall general offenses have been reduced, as well as the response times have improved for priority one calls; policing strategies have also improved since officers are now able to utilize both current technology and modern training to gather intelligence and increase efficiency when pursuing career criminals.
Staffing numbers show adjustments to maximize resources and community response, and the availability to pool specialized services works as a benefit in many areas reducing costs to the city. UPD has also increased school and community efforts to teach Taylorsville’s youngest residents to resist peer pressure, prevent bullying and to provide strategies to avoid violence among school-aged children. The enhancement to security plans and overall equipment capabilities has helped to prepare for any eventuality that could occur in the city.
A general offense is the standard for initial crime reports that are documented and investigated by the responding police officer(s). The first year when the switch was made, there was a total of 14,611 general offenses and that number was reduced to 13,380 by the second fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. The downward trend continued into the third fiscal year ending June 30, with a total number of 12,593 general offenses reported.
Overall, this represents a 14 percent reduction in general offenses, when comparing the first year to the recently completed third year. The statistics go in greater detail, showing a 20 percent reduction in general offenses when comparing the same quarters from 2012 and this year. During the first quarter of the 2012 fiscal year, there were a total number of 3,990 general offenses, when in the same quarter this year, there were a total of 3,184 general offenses.
In addition to the overall reduction of general offenses, officers have also been able to improve their response times to an average of two minutes for priority one calls. A priority one call is defined as an aggravated or ‘in progress’ offense.
In conjunction with the reduced number of general offenses and improved response times, officers have been able to focus more resources on pursuing career criminals, thus further reducing crime in Taylorsville City. Officers are now able to respond with quality equipment, receive up-to-date training and all in efforts to keep everyone safer. The enhanced technology and training help officers gather intelligence, and then provide a streamlined response. UPD also works with adjacent agencies, both local and federal, helping to solve crimes that cross over borders into neighboring communities.
Meanwhile there have been adjustments to Taylorsville Precinct staffing. Taylorsville City Mayor Larry Johnson, with support from the city council, implemented reductions in police administration as well as an increase in police officers. These decisions have resulted in four additional officers on city streets.
Currently, the Taylorsville Precinct includes: one chief, one lieutenant, six sergeants, and 40 police officers. Because Unified Police Department is a larger, fully staffed department that serves a number of municipalities, the services can be pooled together to share without overwhelming economic burden.
Examples of pooled services include S.W.A.T., (Special Weapons and Tactics), C.A.R. Unit, (Collision Analysis Reconstruction), K-9, Robbery, Homicide, Persons Crimes, Records, Human Resources, Fleet, Legal and Fiscal. The ability to pool these services also affords greater specialization and proficiency, in addition to sharing the costs of the services.
The Taylorsville Precinct has also increased school and community programs that teach effective tools to set attainable goals. The primary focus is to teach school-aged children how to make responsible decisions, resist peer pressure, prevent bullying and violence and create protection against problem behaviors.
“One-on-one time with a familiar officer in our schools, on a regular basis, creates a bond of trust and initiates interaction where children are comfortable expressing concerns, asking questions and solving problems,” Detective Scott Lloyd said.
Participation in bike and scooter safety, assemblies and safety drills adds to the personalized services the elementary schools receive.
While the city has seen an overall decrease in the general number of offenses, there is also the question of morale amongst the officers.
In an annual survey given to UPD Officers earlier this year, they were asked, “How satisfied are you working for the Taylorsville Precinct of UPD,” a total of 84.38 percent responded “Extremely Satisfied,” and 12.50 percent responded “Satisfied.”
“There is no getting around the fact that those who protect our streets pay a price emotionally and physically. Over a typical career, officers will deal with hundreds of deaths, to include accidents, homicides and suicides. Child abuse cases, domestic assaults, thefts, frauds, forgeries, vandalisms…The list goes on and on.” Chief Tracy Wyant said about the increased morale amongst the officers.
“Daily work in law enforcement can have many demands and challenges. High morale builds efficiency, creates discipline, and adds enjoyment to work and pride in accomplishment,” Wyant said.
“Even though we have realized significant gains the last three years, it is imperative that we continue improving and adapting to the ever changing criminal element. Through the hard work of the men and women in law enforcement, Taylorsville City leadership and community involvement, we will continue moving in a positive direction. Insuring Taylorsville City is safe for its residents and visitors alike is our paramount goal,” Mayor Johnson said.