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Park City • According to Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds, law enforcement is the last place the county should go to cut personnel.
Public safety is the most important service the county can provide, he added.
Summit County Manager Bob Jasper told the Summit County Council on Oct. 16 that he asked staff to freeze the unfilled positions for a planner and two deputies. This comes in the wake of two successful petitions that halted a pair of taxes until they can be placed on the 2014 ballot.
"Conventional wisdom dictates that we don't have sufficient peace officers anyway," Edmunds said. "And you add all the visitors that come to Summit County into the mix, and instead of increasing our numbers to adequately deal with those visitors and the full-time population, we are actually eroding our personnel and our ability to provide the services."
The industry standard for peace officers per 1,000 full-time residents is 2.5, Edmunds said, but Summit County only has 1.7 peace officers per 1,000 full-time residents.
"We don't look like a normal community of 40,000 people and we don't act like it," he said. "The complexity of this county is such that we are probably more analogous to a community of 70,000 or 80,000 people, especially when you take into consideration all the visitors that we have coming here."
The Sheriff's Office has already lost two or three deputy positions over the last few years, which, together with the newly frozen positions, is the equivalent of a patrol shift, Edmunds said.
Deputies have "been asked to do more with less now for five years," Edmunds said. "They've seen an erosion of their salaries and their benefits. The reality is that the morale wasn't what it once was. I think we've done some very creative things to get morale high. We've been a great motivator of people here, as an administration. But there's only so much that can be done.
"Before you touch one Sheriff's deputy, you should essentially decimate every other service the county provides, and then come to the sheriff's office and start taking the Sheriff's deputies off the streets," Edmunds said.