When going over the budget for 2018-19, Richfield City’s police department received an unexpected surprise — more than double what it was expecting in alcohol enforcement funds from the state of Utah.
Typically the department receives between $14,000 and $15,000 a year from the fund. However, this past year the state funded Richfield at approximately $34,000.
“We can buy equipment with the money, but it has to be preapproved,” said Richfield City Police Chief Trent Lloyd. Another approved use of the money includes funding special alcohol enforcement shifts.
“We were not expecting it,” Lloyd said.
The state of Utah distributes the money based on alcohol sales, beer licenses and population. However, it is also based on a department’s conviction rate when it comes to alcohol/drug related offenses, including DUIs.
Since 2017, Richfield City’s police department has emphasized impairment enforcement, resulting in more than 120 DUI arrests each of the past two years. Prior to that, the department averaged approximately 40 DUI arrests each year.
“That first wave of convictions hit, and was reflected in the state funds,” Lloyd said. He said the money is also used for enforcement of other alcohol issues, such as sales to minors and public intoxication.
The result is that the department was able to purchase five new camera systems, at a cost of some $5,600 each. Two of the cameras are being funded through a grant, also funded through the state’s alcohol enforcement money. The other three are being paid for by funds the city received through the alcohol enforcement program.
“That’s a significant benefit to Richfield City,” Lloyd said.
The city also saw an increase in the number of DUI specific shifts funded by the state.
“They want to see results, and we’ve had them,” Lloyd said.
DUI specific shifts are funded by the state using money collected by impounds. When a vehicle is impounded for any reason, such as a DUI, expired registration or no insurance, a tax is paid in order to get it out of the impound yard. That tax is distributed by the state to local departments to pay for focused DUI shifts.
Some 65 percent of the department’s overtime budget comes from state funding, including DUI and alcohol enforcement, as well as other special shifts for targeting issues like seat belt use or distracted driving, Lloyd said.
“It’s been really good for us,” Lloyd said. State money has funded some 1,493 man hours during the last fiscal year for Richfield’s police department.