BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
KAYSVILLE – Calling the current police station a “liability to public safety,” Police Chief Sol Oberg petitioned the Kaysville City Council on Nov. 19 for a new facility.
“I ask for your help in overcoming a significant obstacle to safety,” he said, emphasizing that while he has “fought tirelessly” to ensure public safety, “there are many problems I cannot resolve with a decrepit public safety building to work out of.”
Oberg outlined a long list of deficiencies in the current building and referred to discussions with Kaysville citizens and even comments from offenders in building the case for a new one.
He gave the history of the current station and addressed the failure of a bond request three years ago, saying that timing and misinformation may have contributed to its failure.
At the end of his presentation, council members expressed support of his department and his request.
“We whole heartedly support the police department,” said Mayor Steve Hiatt. “I certainly believe our personnel are worth investing in. We will do everything we can to support you in your request.”
“If every citizen in Kaysville could have been here to listen, I think maybe there would be a change in feelings and attitudes,” said Ron Stephens, a council member. “This has certainly made an impact on me. It has moved it up on my priority list.”
In his work with schools as a superintendent, Stephens said he has seen over and over again that “the inadequacy of the facility will have an impact on the effectiveness of the organization. We’ve gotten to that point,” he said.
Oberg had related an incident where a woman charged with driving under the influence was brought to the station and made a snide remark about how tax dollars in the city certainly weren’t going to the police department.
“Almost every day someone in the public makes a comment,” he said. “It presents an unprofessional image to the public.”
The facility was built in 1986 when there were nine officers and 12,000 residents. The city now has 28,000 people and 23 full-time officers. A portable construction trailer was installed south of the building, where 10 officers work. They jokingly refer to it as the “south precinct,” he said, but even with the trailer, there is inadequate space for the work of the department.
The police station’s small lobby doesn’t allow privacy for those filing reports, he said. There is only one room to interrogate suspects and residents getting fingerprints are often nearby.
Training is a huge challenge, said Oberg. Facilities in Farmington or Layton often have to be used. Evidence is processed and stored in the same place officers eat lunch. Volunteers can’t be utilized because “we don’t have anywhere to put any more people.”
The city is even being passed over for grants, he said. When he applied for a motorcycle grant, Oberg said it was turned down because there is not space for its storage.
“As the city grows and the expectations grow, we need to step up and meet these challenges,” he told the council.
The timing of the $4.5 million bond measure for the station, which was on the ballot in 2010, likely contributed to its failure, according to Oberg.
It was in the midst of the recession when people had trouble funding their own needs much less government’s, he said. Many residents are now volunteering to go door to door to support a bond measure in the future.
The building would not be a “police palace,” he said, as had been charged in the earlier campaign. “We need the public’s trust. I don’t want to violate that.” It would, he said, be built to meet the needs of the future because the city is growing rapidly and has a responsibility to the children in the community, and their children.
Council members asked city staff to determine the cost of a new police facility and to determine options for funding it.
“The responsible thing is to do this once and to do it right,” said Brett Garlick, a council member. “We need to give the men and women the facility they need to do their job and to do it safely.”