Smithfield approves own police force
By Casey Hobson
SMITHFIELD - More bang for the buck?
Beginning Jan. 1, 2001, Smithfield's streets will be patrolled by it's own police force.
The Smithfield City Council approved a police force Wednesday night with a 3-1 vote. The majority of the council members said they feel the police force will provide a higher quality service, possibly for the same amount of money the town already shells out to the Sheriff's office.
Mayor Kent Ward, who voted in favor of the new police force, said while the Cache County Sheriff's Office has served Smithfield greatly, it hasn't been able to meet the city's demands.
"If we buy an officer (from the Sheriff's Office), can we be guaranteed he'll stay in Smithfield?" Mayor Ward asked during the meeting.
"We can't be guaranteed because they have to go all over the county. We have absolutely no control of any officer right now." Ward said the Sheriff's office currently averages close to 14 hours a day in Smithfield, and approximately 35 percent of the time the sheriff or a deputy is in town, it's for 20 minutes or less.
"If you look at that, we're paying for drive through coverage of this town," he said.
Smithfield is the largest town the Sheriff's office is currently contracted to cover. Cache County Sheriff G. Lynn Nelson said the city accounts for 18 percent of the calls to his office, 12 percent of the hours his deputies log and supplies eight percent of the budget.
"It makes my job easier," Nelson said. "I lost the biggest city that we contracted with.
"I think it was a wise decision in that Smithfield needs more coverage. They've chose to do it with their own department rather than the Sheriff's Office." Nelson said while a localized force might provide more coverage, it may not lead to higher efficiency.
"There has been many studies throughout the U.S. that show small police departments aren't as effective," he said.
Ward said the goal is to have the police force fully operational by
the end of the year. The council estimates it will cost nearly $400,000
a year to run.