By Myrna Trauntvein
A better way to utilize county law enforcement officers' time would be to arm those known as special functions officers.
Juab County Commissioners approved the purchase of additional firearms using budgeted funds.
Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) are already armed with guns and tasers. Special Functions Officers (SFO) would be better able to serve in their capacities if they were also armed.
"Now in the POST (Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training)," said Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme, "Special Function Officers and LEO have a lot of the same certification."
Orme said that there were an additional eight officers who would need firearms if he begins to use the corrections officers or SFO to also transport prisoners to and from court, to doctor's and dentists offices, and to serve as officers in the courtroom.
The standards for peace officers have been changed to allow those who serve as SFO to carry arms and to perform transport and courtroom security duties.
"The department's law enforcement officer's time could be used more wisely if all officers were armed," said Orme.
He said that Utah County was more aggressive in showing the authority of officers because they want all officers to carry firearms. That way, when the public sees a uniformed officer, they also see that the individual is armed.
"I have money enough in one of my budgets to pay for the eight more guns that would be needed so that all officers in my department have guns," said Orme.
The cost, he said, would amount to $3,432.
Rick Carlton, commissioner, asked if there would be more expense incurred other than for the cost of the guns.
There would be a need to purchase holsters but that cost could come from the uniform budget, said Orme. Therefore, there was the needed money for that additional cost.
As for the training needed, he said, that was an in-house training and would not be an additional expense.
Eventually, said Orme, he would also like to purchase tasers for the eight officers who did not have them. However, they were much more expensive, almost double the cost of guns.
One could be purchased, kept at the jail, and checked out if an officer thought it would be a good choice in a particular assignment. A taser, he said, was less lethal than a gun and would serve well in some circumstances.
The county was paying Special Function Officers and it would not cost more for payroll to have them perform the added functions since LEOs were often sent to do the work of transporting and serving as security.
"It is safer to send an armed officer than an unarmed one," he said. "On a regular day's work, officers will not cost the department more. The weapon itself is the substantial cost."
He said that 14 officers were employed and eight more guns would mean that all officers were armed.