Gov. Cox, local leaders address police reform at ceremonial bill signing

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SANDY, Utah (ABC4) — Several police-reform bills are pushing for more transparency from law enforcement.

Governor Spencer Cox and local leaders attended a ceremonial signing late Wednesday morning to go over the new laws.

They called it special because they said these laws allow for more accountability and to keep the public in the know.

Cox and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said this was a giant step for Utah policy, but there is still a long way to go in police reform.

“This is something we should celebrate and it is a model to the rest of the country that we do not have to hate each other,” said Cox. “We can actually solve problems and we can be better. We can support each other and we can always improve.”

Cox realized this was one day after the historic guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, but said regardless, these bills were necessary.

Gill agreed.

“I think this is an opportunity to learn from this moment and really make that long-term commitment to what we want to reform to economic justice and social justice and political justice to criminal justice,” said Gill.

Many of the bills call on justice.

House Bill 84 states any rise of force must be reported and House Bill 162 says mental health and de-escalation training must be included in police officers’ training.

“It gives POST the ability to investigate officers when there are sustained findings of untruthfulness and deceitfulness,” said Rep. Andrew Stoddard. “More importantly when there are sustained findings of prejudice or bias, and that is something that will allow us to make sure our officers continue to stay top notch and get rid of any of the few bad ones that may be out there.”

Many lawmakers at the ceremonial signing Wednesday were proud of what they had accomplished.

Gill said the new laws will help set a better precedent.

“Right now, the way the laws are written, they do favor one side more than the other,” said Gill. “Law enforcement is favored at a different level than the expectation and accountability that our community desires.”

Cox said Utah is setting a good example for other states.

The next legislative session will include around 30 proposed pieces of legislation that have to deal with police reform and accountability.

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