‘Bail reform needs to end’: Utah County Sheriff reacts to standoff suspect being released from jail

Local News

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah County Sheriff’s Office says the release of a man at the center of a Pleasant Grove standoff highlights why authorities “have fought to have bail reform repealed.”

On March 16, a man, later identified as 37-year-old Robert Clark, barricaded himself in a home for a multi-hour standoff with police.

Clark was ultimately taken into custody, uninjured, after gas canisters were deployed in the residence.

 “There is mental health issues here that have gone untreated. I understand that this individual is a lot different when he is on his medication, but, so yeah it’s a mental health issue but when he gets a firearm, when he comes out into the public and starts threatening the community with a firearm and discharging that weapon, and start shooting at law enforcement, it becomes a criminal matter and not a mental health matter” Captain Britt Smith with the Pleasant Grove Police Department said following the incident.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office says Clark has a history of interactions with law enforcement and police “believe he struggles with mental health challenges.”

“A priority in cases like this is getting needed help for people involved,” the Sheriff’s Office says in a release. “But in some cases, like this one, where the individual suffers from mental health issues, public safety must be a priority above even immediate help for the suspect. When a person is firing shots then protecting the public is paramount along with bringing that person safely into custody, as was done in this case. But when their actions create a real risk of deadly consequences, help for the suspect must come in a setting where they cannot choose, again, to put the lives of others, or their own life, in danger.”

On March 23, authorities say Clark was ordered by a Fourth District Court Judge to be released from jail without having to post bail.

In response to Clark’s release, Sheriff Mike Smith released this statement:

“This story is a perfect example of why the Sheriffs in Utah have fought to have bail reform repealed.  It is not acceptable for people who are a danger to themselves and others to be released back into our communities without receiving the help they are in need of. Similar stories have played out across the state. Bail reform needs to end!

“Bottom line this is a failure of the justice system to keep our community safe as well as provide help to the offender. Bail reform has got to go. Supporters of bail reform should be ashamed of the damage they are doing to our criminal justice system.”

The Wednesday release from the Sheriff’s Office continues, saying “clearly, Mr. Clark needs help for his mental health issues.”

“But the public also needs to be protected from actions that put the lives of others, and his own, at risk. Those who supported this kind of bail reform don’t seem to understand that this “reform” cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ solution!”

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