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South Valley Journal

Riverton Police Department ready to roll

Jun 03, 2019 03:41PM ● By Mariden Williams

The first Riverton Police Department police car was unveiled to the public on May 15. (Riverton City Communications)

By Mariden Williams  | [email protected]

The budding Riverton Police Department, and all its new officers, are well on track to begin their rounds this July, once Riverton’s contract with the Unified Police Department expires.

“All the police officers are hired, so we'll have 35 police officers,” said Riverton City Manager Konrad Hildebrandt. “They won’t start their patrol until the first week or so of June. But they're all committed, they're all signed up. They're getting pumped and they're ready to go.”

With UPD, Riverton had just 26 dedicated officers but also access to UPD’s pooled resources: things such as homicide detectives, K-9 units and SWAT teams that are extremely useful to have when you need them but don’t make a lot of sense for small cities like Riverton to include in its own police force. However, Riverton officials seem confident that the nine additional officers in their own department will be able to make up for the lack of UPD’s more specialized resources.

“We believe that this increase in officer presence, and having a police force that is branded and dedicated to just Riverton City will be a very good thing for our community," said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. "Taking into account what we would have standing with the Unified Police Department, at our current 26 officers in the precinct, there's about $1.2 million of value added to the city.”

Chief Don Hutson, who has been masterminding the creation of the new police department, worked with city staff to select six sergeants to aid in the process of interviewing, background-checking and eventually hiring all the remaining officers in the force.

"We had more than 90 applications for those six sergeant positions; the quality of applicants was amazing,” Hutson said. “I think you're going to be very, very happy with the management team.”

And not only have the officers been hired, but the force has also already received its ORI number from the national Department of Justice, a feat which Chief Hutson is particularly pleased about.

"One of the most challenging aspects of creating a new police department is to be recognized through the BCI, or the Bureau of Criminal Identification,” said Chief Hutson. The BCI is a state agency that manages and is Utah’s gatekeeper for access to the FBI’s prodigious information databases. The BCI won’t let you access any of those databases unless you have an ORI number, which is a unique identifier number assigned by the Department of Justice to every law enforcement agency in the United States. So, if an officer wants to, say, check whether or not a car is stolen, they must provide their ORI number to the BCI, or they can’t get any information.

"We received our ORI number just this week,” Hutson said at the city council meeting on April 2. “We have been recognized as a legitimate agency by the FBI Department of Justice, so that we can run those searches and checks on the national databases.” 

This was one of the phases of police department setup that had worried Hutson the most, partly due to horror stories he had heard from Herriman's infant police department, which didn't obtain its ORI number until very soon before its officers were due to start patrolling. 

"They were almost in a panic, ensuring that they got that, and we've taken care of it three months in advance," said Hutson. 

Having an ORI number this early in the game is a massive relief.

The public image of police officers with shiny badges and branded cars holds almost as much power as an ORI number in its ability to command respect, and Hutson, city staff and a few graphic designers have also been working to make sure that the new force will be well-dressed and well-equipped. 

"We received a mock-up of our new patch,” Hutson said. “It looks pretty awesome—really awesome, I think. We're excited about having the opportunity to put together our uniform; it came out even better than I thought." 

The squad cars have also been finished. 

"We're going to have an unveiling of a brand-new police car on Silverwolf Corner, at 12600 South and Redwood Road, sometime in the very new future,” Hildebrandt said. “It's all marked up and all beautiful.”