Salt Lake City’s police force will grow by 50 officers; tax rates to grow, too

First batch will be out patrolling in June.<br>

Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown talks about the progress made with the Community Activist Group and its work with the Salt Lake City Police Department Tuesday Jan. 24.

The first of 50 new Salt Lake City police officers could be on patrol by June following City Council approval of the new hires Tuesday.

Those initial 17 are existing officers who will transfer from other jurisdictions and undergo a shortened training period. The balance, along with 13 new support staff to handle the extra work generated by the new patrol officers, will be on board about November.

“I’ve done this since 1991, the better part of three decades, and in my tenure here as a police officer, I have never seen an increase in staffing of this level in one shot,” Police Chief Mike Brown said Tuesday night as the Council put final touches on the package. “I haven’t seen this support for law enforcement and policing ever in my career.”

The cost of the new officers this year and next is approximately $10 million. This year’s costs will be covered by reserve funds, but next year’s is expected to require a tax increase, most likely in property taxes.

Exactly how and where the new officers will be deployed will be part of a study of staffing the department will conduct early next year with the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“This is a game changer,” said Assistant Chief Tim Doubt. The new hires bring authorized department staffing to just over 500, an increase of roughly 11 percent. “We can’t just say, ‘Oh, we’re just going to throw all 50 here.’ We need to understand where to put those people to be most effective.”

The department and Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s administration initially proposed hiring 27 new officers and four support staff. The council upped those numbers last week.

“We’re very supportive,” said David Litvack, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff. “We’re also eyes wide open in terms of the budgetary impact, both this year and prospectively. We know that there will be more conversations with the council about how we address the cost.”