- Levan residents would like to see more law enforcement presence in town
By Rebecca Dopp
A greater law enforcement presence in Levan is much needed, according to some Levan Town residents.
Taryn Brooks, who had originally wanted to suggest the addition of a town marshall, altered her request and wanted to look at other options including renegotiating a contract with the sheriff's office, or possibly instituting a neighborhood watch program or a citizen patrol program.
She felt that in a small town like Levan, with not a lot of police presence, the problems seemed to be a little worse each year with drugs, safety issues, and instances of gun fire within city limits.
"Does anybody know what contract the town currently has with the sheriff's office?" she asked.
Elizabeth Hone, town clerk, said she had contacted the sheriff's office and was told that the current contract had been made with a previous sheriff and the current sheriff was just honoring that contract.
Deputy Fred Smalley, on behalf of Sheriff Alden Orme who could not attend the meeting, said that the sheriff's office wanted to support whatever decision Levan Town made, whether it be a town marshall or to renegotiate a contract.
According to Smalley, the current contract is for $1,200 a year and that doesn't cover costs in today's economy for the services needed. A new contract will need to be discussed.
"There are some other issues he needs to address, and would welcome to meet with the town council, initially, in executive session," he said.
Smalley said the sheriff would like to be made aware of any concerns or problems the town had and would do what he could to address those needs or improve the services that he currently provides to the town. The sheriff could bring information about how many calls the sheriff's office receives on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis for the town of Levan.
He said that the town should be aware of the costs that come along with funding a town marshall. He said that it takes approximately $100,000 a year for just one person. There are costs for arresting people and putting them in the jail and if any medical problems occur, costs would need to be taken care of by the town. There are also costs for dispatch, equipment, vehicles, etc.
Smalley also said that in these times it was not safe or wise to go on a call without access to backup help.
"I know the sheriff would still provide backup [if the town decided to go with a town marshall]," said Smalley.
Some of the concerns residents had included children riding 4-wheelers without helmets, drug dealers, speeding, curfew violations, and kids discharging weapons in city limits.
Smalley said that the sheriff was open to discussion to address these issues.
Larry Durffee, council member, asked what exactly residents wanted that the sheriff's office wasn't currently providing? A bigger law enforcement presence was the biggest response.
Bill Peeler, resident, said that residents should be careful what they ask for.
"In my experience, you can't solve lawbreaker problems solely by having a cop on every corner," he said. "They're not catching the bad guys, (they are good at hiding). We're the ones that will get caught, jaywalking or something."
He said citizen awareness was the way to help solve a lot of these problems. Smalley said that if the sheriff's office didn't know about the problem, then they couldn't take care of it.
Brooks made the suggestion of getting a neighborhood watch program going, but Linda Hanks, resident, said that might pit neighbor against neighbor.
Brooks said it might be to the advantage of residents if there were some kind of training for them so they could know what to look for and how to go about reporting suspicious or illegal activity.
"For myself, I've always been scared to call in and they [the perpetrator] find out it was me and come after me," she said. "The more educated I am, the stronger I feel that I can report things."
Jilean Ercanbrack, council member, said she thought the sheriff could help with getting education to residents about these issues. Brent Taylor, council member, said he felt they had sufficient input from the residents and could move forward with the sheriff in addressing their concerns.