SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – After a number of highly publicized police incidents around Utah and around the nation, the Utah legislature is considering a number of law enforcement reform bills.
Utah tied a record with 30 officer-involved shootings in 2020. That’s an unofficial count because the state currently has no law requiring law enforcement agencies to report the use of lethal force incidents but Representative Angela Romero’s House Bill 84 would require departments to submit that information to the state Bureau of Criminal Identification.
Rep. Romero, (D) Salt Lake City, is also proposing House Bill 162 to require officers to get annual training on mental health, crisis intervention, and de-escalation.
“We’re not going to tell everyone ‘You have to use this specific de-escalation training’,” Rep. Romero said Wednesday. “We just want to ensure that all members of law enforcement are getting de-escalation training and getting training to work with people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. It’s huge.”
House Speaker Brad Wilson, (R) Kaysville, agreed.
“We’ve got to get everybody on the same page. We’re working on that,” Speaker Wilson said. “We also have to, at the same time, make sure we get the resources to law enforcement they need so they have the ability to train people in these standards that the state is passing.”
Meanwhile, House Bill 237, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, would require that an officer “have a reasonable belief that the use of lethal force is both reasonable and necessary” before pulling his or her trigger.
Lawmakers say that not all of these bills will become law but they’re steps in the right direction.
“We wanted to make sure we’re working together after the murder of George Floyd to show Utah that we can come together on certain issues,” Rep. Romero said.
“We’re all vested in this,” Speaker Wilson added. “We care about this regardless of where in the state we’re from or what party we come from or how long we’ve been here.”
The Utah Senate is also considering four police reform bills, including Senate Bill 38 which would require written policies and certification for police K-9’s and their handlers.