Legislature look to make changes to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Oct 19, 2022, 7:00 PM
salt lake county sheriff's office ic pictured, a deputy with the office just died in a crash...
A deputy with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office died Saturday morning in a two-vehicle crash in Lehi. Lehi Police say the deputy was en route to the Salt Lake County Jail for a scheduled shift. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The future of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office is up in the air. Utah lawmakers are looking at making changes to Sheriff Rosie Rivera’s powers. 

It comes down to two issues. 

First, Rivera is serving as both the Sheriff for the County and the CEO of the Unified Police Department. 

The CEO position is decided on by the UPD Board of Directors

That has people like Council member Aimee Winder Newton concerned. 

“I think it’s problematic when you have somebody that’s in charge of two budgets that mutually, financially benefit each other,” Winder Newton said. 

But Rivera disagrees. 

“I still think it functions well. I think the county saves a lot of money by consolidation,” Rivera told a legislative subcommittee Wednesday. 

How taxes are used for Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office

The second issue has to do with how taxes in the county are actually being spent on policing. 

Some cities are not using UPD services. While other cities have similar units, doing the same thing as UPD. 

That means people are essentially being taxed twice for the same service, according to Rep. Jordan Tuesher, R-Salt Lake.  

“So even though someone in, let’s say South Jordan is paying their county taxes that go to then fund this cold case unit, you also have them paying taxes to fund a similar unit in Salt Lake County,” Tuesher said. 

Rivera has asked for a committee to look at this issue, without involving the state. 

And that committee has started working already. It will likely make recommendations to the legislature, according to Council member Laurie Stringham. 

“I would hate to see the legislature make legislation that impacts other sheriffs, because of what is going on in Salt Lake County,” Rivera said. 

There wasn’t any decision made in committee on Wednesday. But Tuesher said he is in the process of drafting legislation, likely for the upcoming 2023 session. 

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Legislature look to make changes to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office