The Unified Police Department’s (UPD) Special Operations Division provides specialized support to our partner City’s and Townships through our Precincts, the Investigations Division and the Corrections Bureau. Members of the Special Operations Division are ready to respond with specialized skills, training and equipment to assist with public gatherings, special events, emergencies, crime scenes and natural disasters anywhere in Salt Lake County; by contract or through mutual aid agreement. The units that make up the Special Operations Division include: the K-9 Unit, SWAT Team, Canyon Patrol, Motorcycle Squad, Search and Rescue, and School Crossing Guards.
The K-9 Unit consists of a sergeant and five, full-time officer-handlers that provide canine support to Patrol, Investigations, and Corrections. In addition, the unit has three other officer-handlers that have canine partners assigned to them in a secondary capacity. The unit is often called upon to assist Federal, State, and other local law enforcement agencies. The officers and their canine partners work the evening and graveyard shifts in patrol, but are subject to call-out at any time the resource is needed. They search for and apprehend high-risk criminals who have fled from law enforcement and/or concealed themselves to avoid capture. Additionally, the unit provide dogs for evidence searches and narcotics detection.
The unit also provides canine demonstrations throughout the year for school programs, scout groups, community activities, and special interest groups. These demonstrations provide an excellent opportunity to promote a greater understanding of how and why canines benefit law enforcement and citizens in their efforts to keep our communities safe.
The Police Service Dog of today is like its human counterpart, professional and highly trained. All of UPD's dogs are kenneled at the handler's home. Handlers generally spend more time with their K-9 partners than with members of their own family. The dogs blend in very well in the family environment. This interaction contributes to the socialization of animals. They understand the difference between work and off time and behave accordingly. Some citizens may have a belief that police service dogs "mean." However, a “mean” canine would have no place in our Police Service Dog program.
Police Service Dogs have a keen sense of smell. Without this ability, the dogs would be of limited value in law enforcement. Many people have observed a K-9 demonstration at one time or another which demonstrates how the patrol dogs chase down and capture wanted suspects. However, this is a very small portion of what they do. They are a search and location tool, first and foremost. Unfortunately, suspects being searched for are often uncooperative, violent law breakers and their immediate apprehension is necessary. To that end, patrol dogs are trained to defend themselves, their handlers and apprehend fleeing criminals.
The UPD Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team is highly trained in specialized tactical operations and is deployed in high-risk situations in order to minimize the risk of injury or death to officers and the public. The primary mission of the SWAT Team is to save lives. The unit is comprised of a Lieutenant Commander, Sergeants, and 40 officer; often referred to as Operators. The SWAT Team membership consists of officers and paramedics from the Unified Police Department, the Unified Fire Authority, and other local police departments who choose to participate and share resources. Team members are certified in diverse specialties including firearms instruction, explosive breaching, chemical munitions, less lethal force, emergency tactical medicine, and marksmen.
The team receives on-going training throughout the year; training in various specialized disciplines including hostage rescue techniques, vehicle assaults, warrant service techniques, static and dynamic building clearing, explosive breaching, scouting and intelligence gathering, downed-officer rescues and barricaded suspect scenarios. The SWAT Team also assists in training other department members in various tactical techniques.
In 2007, in cooperation with the Unified Fire Authority, the SWAT Team began a tactical paramedic program to further enhance the life-saving capabilities of the Team.
Canyon Patrol Unit
The Canyon Patrol Unit consists of 2 Sergeants and 19 Officers. They provide all aspects of law enforcement services within the canyon areas of Salt Lake County, including Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, Emigration Canyon, East Canyon, Lambs Canyon, Millcreek Canyon, Butterfield Canyon, and many other mountainous areas. They conduct follow-up investigations for property crimes that occur within these canyons. Even though the canyons are not densely populated, their popularity as a destination for tourists and other visitors makes them a very busy area. Our canyons receive millions of visitors every year (on par with that of Yellowstone National Park).
The unique canyon environment presents a need for a variety of specialized skills above and beyond what is expected of the average patrol officer. Canyon officers receive training in the use of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, avalanche transceivers, and helicopter operations to name a few. The officers are equipped to handle a wide variety of emergency and rescue calls. The unit also works collaboratively with the U.S. Forest Service, Unified Fire Authority, the Town of Alta, Salt Lake City Division of Water Quality, Utah Department of Transportation Avalanche Forecasters, Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) road crews, air medical helicopters, Wasatch Powderbird Guides, Wasatch Back-Country Rescue, and the ski patrols of each of the resorts in the area.
The Canyon Patrol’s operations are supplemented by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team.
Canyon Patrol officers are also tasked with providing community-oriented policing duties as a part of their assignment. Officers are the liaisons with ski resorts and all community councils.
The Unified Police Department Office Motor Squad has a proud tradition of service dating back to 1932. The Motor Squad consists of 16 Officers and 2 Sergeants. The UPD Motor Squad rides Harley-Davidson motorcycles and serves the public in a wide variety of assignments.
Members of the Motor Squad complete an intensive two-week course to become certified as a Motor Officer. Following the initial course, officers continue to train throughout their tenure with the squad. The squad enforces speed and traffic laws in the various partner cities and townships serviced by our Precincts. They also assist and participate in parades, regulate traffic-controlled community and charity events, enforce DUI and seat belt laws, participate in funeral escorts, provide dignitary motorcade escorts and assist in a wide variety of other community events.
Search and Rescue
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team is comprised of approximately 40 mountain rescue volunteers. Search & Rescue, in conjunction with the UPD Canyon Patrol Unit, is trained and equipped to respond to any type of backcountry emergency - day or night, 365 days a year. The team celebrated its 60th year of operation in 2017.
On average, the team contributes thousands of hours of their own time annually responding to callouts, training for emergencies and conducting public awareness presentations. Search & Rescue members are expected to be proficient in technical rock and ice climbing, high angle snow mountaineering, emergency medical services, avalanche recovery, swift water rescue and open water rescue and recovery. Common rescue operations in Salt Lake County including lost or injured hikers, fallen or stranded climbers, injured skiers, avalanche victim recovery or water searches, rescues and recoveries.
The Salt Lake County Search & Rescue Team depends on the services of volunteers to operate. Any interested individual capable of donating 200 to 400 hours annually and skilled in technical rock, snow and/or ice climbing, mountaineering, swift water rescue, emergency medicine, and/or backcountry skiing are encouraged to complete and submit the online application available on this website or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
As a 501.c3 organization, the team relies on charitable donations to supplement the county and state funding needed to support day-to-day operational, training, and equipment expenses.
School Crossing Guards
The Unified Police Department Special Operations Division is staffed with 280 regular and substitute crossing guards for 69 area schools in Canyons, Jordan, and Granite School Districts. These schools are located within the unincorporated / township areas of Salt Lake County, as well as in, Holladay City, Midvale City, Millcreek City, and Taylorsville City through a contract agreement with the UPD.
The dedicated men and women brave the various extreme weather conditions to ensure the safety of our children as they cross hazardous roadways going to and from school.
The Unified Police Department appreciates these hard-working crossing guards, and we are committed to keeping our children safe. Want to Become a Crossing Guard? The UPD hires crossing guards on a continual basis. For more information, visit our employment page.