He’s preparing an estimate for provision of service as leaders in the city weigh construction of a new building to house the North Ogden Police Department that could cost around $11 million.
“The cost will be lower than what their operating budget is,” Arbon assured. He didn’t provide a number — the 2020-2021 budget for the North Ogden Police Department totaled $2.58 million — but expects to submit a proposal to North Ogden with firm figures by week’s end.
Using the sheriff’s office to manage law enforcement in North Ogden would preclude the need to build the new police department structure, as proposed. In fact, it would result in elimination of the department altogether, a potentially dramatic shift in the city. As such, going that route is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Mayor S. Neal Berube said he’s not dissatisfied with the police department. On the contrary, he lauded operations of both the North Ogden Police Department and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. “But this is part of the due diligence we have to do,” Berube said.
Arbon said it’s up to North Ogden officials to decide what direction they want to go.
“I will support whatever the decision that the council makes. I’ll support them 100%,” Arbon said. North Ogden, he went on, “has great officers that do great work.”
The North Ogden City Council had seemed to reach consensus on March 23 to pursue a bond issue to cover the cost of the new police department structure to replace the current facility, regarded as cramped and outdated. After that meeting, though, sheriff’s office and city reps got back in touch and decided to revisit the notion of the sheriff’s office handling law enforcement in North Ogden. “We’re looking at all options,” Berube said.
Arbon, who lives in North Ogden, said he was approached by residents from the city about contracting with the sheriff’s office for law enforcement coverage, prompting the renewed look. The sides had previously discussed the matter, but city reps at the March 23 meeting seemed to have already dismissed the notion of contracting with the sheriff’s office.
“I’m responding to several requests from citizens to provide a model and option for North Ogden,” he said.
Aside from cost, Arbon said the report to North Ogden will include typical response times to the locales the sheriff’s office currently serves. Eight communities contract with the sheriff’s office for law enforcement coverage — Farr West, Plain City, Hooper, Uintah, West Haven, Huntsville, Marriott-Slaterville and Washington Terrace. The sheriff’s office also covers the unincorporated areas of the county.
Each locale pays the sheriff’s office for services, and those contracts serve as the basis for Arbon’s contention that his office could provide protection at a lower cost than what the city pays for its police department. Cost, though, isn’t the only consideration.
The current slate of officers “understand and have that connection to the community,” Berube said. Twenty-one sworn officers serve in the North Ogden Police Department while the sheriff’s office employs 80 law enforcement officers, excluding corrections officers.
Arbon echoed that, but also noted that the sheriff’s office, because it’s larger, can offer a broader range of specialized services. The department has major crimes, fraud, elder abuse and child pornography units, he said. The office can also tailor service to individual cities, though that could boost costs.
“I also told them I’d be willing to take the staff over at the same pay or a higher rate,” said Arbon.