East Carbon police chief addresses Sunnyside council
East Carbon Police Chief Sam Leonard is apprehensive that the promotion of the new Sunnyside police department is coming at the expense of the ECPD.
Sunnyside recently added their own police department to avoid paying the increase in cost that East Carbon wanted to charge to have their police cover the small town.
Now that the two towns are discussing consolidation, information has gone out to Sunnyside residents that Leonard feels is disparaging to the ECPD .
In a fact sheet on consolidation that was disbursed throughout the area, Sunnyside officials also addressed reasons behind the addition of a separate police force.
Leonard voiced his concerns about the accuracy of the distributed information at Tuesday night's Sunnyside City Council meeting.
"I believe starting a police department was more politically motivated than it was for the benefit of the citizens," Leonard commented.
Leonard said he was in favor of Sunnyside getting their own police force because then the community would stop saying the ECPD didn't do anything. However, he said that the town seems to be making unfair comparisons between the two departments.
Leonard spoke to those gathered in the chambers and the council about such issues as ambulance service, animal control, emergency response, the DARE program, the number of officers needed to make a police force available 24 hours a day and the billing process of assisting other officers in another jurisdiction.
He tried to dispel any sentiments in the fact sheet that East Carbon had not been responding to many calls that are coming into dispatch.
Leonard also argued the assertion that has been made that SPD is available 24 hours a day.
He said dispatch has released statistics that East Carbon is still assisting in a high number of Sunnyside calls.
According to Leonard, 20 Sunnyside priority calls were answered by East Carbon's officers because Sunnyside manpower was not available. An additional 61 calls were put on hold until Sunnyside officers could make it to the scene.
Leonard also voiced concern that the DARE program may suffer as a result of the addition of a second department.
According to Leonard, East Carbon has facilitated a DARE program for 13 years. And East Carbon was the first department to offer it in Carbon or Emery County. He is worried DARE could fall between the cracks.
"I hate to see our schools go without it," he stated.
However, the long-term fracture that has prevailed in the two towns does not seem to enter into police work from Leonard's point of view.
"You've got to understand when there's a political rift in cities, that's not going to affect the policeman," Leonard noted.
The council argued that the choice to add a police department was not driven by politics and that the SPD is currently working out the kinks of being a new force.
"When we started this police department we knew it was not going to be perfect," Councilwoman Carol Johnson stated. "There are a lot of things we are working on."
In the end, Leonard just requested that lines not be drawn between the two departments.
"Compliment your guys. I think you should praise your police department," Leonard said in closing. "But I'd appreciate it in the future if you don't make comparisons."
In related council business, Sunnyside approved the employment application of a sixth police officer for the force, Clinton Snow.
A report from Councilman Doug Parsons highlighted the issue of consolidation that is being considered between East Carbon and Sunnyside.
Parsons said discussions are still underway and another meeting would be taking place the evening of Nov. 19.