Originally published in City Journals
Several months ago our community mourned the loss of Doug Barney, a Unified Police Department officer, who was killed in the line of duty. This was a tragic loss for our community. During that time, one of my constituents asked if there was a way that we could memorialize those in law enforcement who have paid the ultimate price. May 15th is Peace Officers Memorial Day. During that week, I will be issuing a proclamation during our Salt Lake County Council meeting to honor all law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
Police officers are a vital component in a much larger system that seeks to address the root causes of criminal behavior —a system that includes multiple different arms of county-level efforts to truly make a difference.
The county provides many public safety related services, including: felony and misdemeanor prosecution by the district attorney’s office, incarceration at the metro jail and Oxbow facilities, law enforcement services through the sheriff’s office, pretrial and probation services provided by criminal justice services, and the justice courts.
Whether cities use the Unified Police Department, or have their own police department for local law enforcement, all send arrested individuals to the Salt Lake County Metro Jail for booking and potential incarceration. The jail is also one of the most significant items in the county budget. That’s why criminal justice is an issue we’re addressing at the county level through multiple fronts.
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Criminal Justice Services provide criminally-involved citizens of Salt Lake County with effective and innovative alternatives to incarceration in the county jail. These services focus on offender accountability, risk to the community, and behavioral change in order to reduce the likelihood of recidivism.
Salt Lake County Behavioral Health Services is another crucial component given the number of offenders who suffer from mental health disorders or struggle with substance abuse. Behavioral Health Services connects citizens with evidence-based treatment practices throughout the community and appropriate community-based services that provide support along the road to recovery and healing.
These entities work in tandem to address root causes of criminal behavior, help residents avoid future offenses, and ultimately reduce the demands on the county jail system.
The entire system works well because we have good people addressing each criminal justice need for our county. While we have more work to do, I cannot emphasize enough my appreciation for what these many committed men and women do each day for the people of Salt Lake County.
Law enforcement officers in every corner of this county are the most important resource we have to protect our residents, address criminal justice challenges, and ensure we are raising our families in safe, healthy, and happy communities. I want all officers and their families to know they have the support and appreciation of the County Council, as well as the county as a whole. When I saw the outpouring of love and support to the family of UPD Officer Doug Barney, I was reminded again of the goodness of our residents in the county and state, as well as the unfailing dedication of our officers to their sworn duty. I look forward to May 15th, when we can honor Officer Barney and the rest of our men and women who have paid the ultimate price to keep our county safe.