SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4)- Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed legislation repealing the bail reform bill that caused controversy among the Utah law enforcement community.
Some Utah law enforcement officials criticized the bail reform bill, saying that it allows offenders to be released despite their potential threat to public safety.
Additional controversy surrounding bail reform comes as a suspect who fired shots at law enforcement during a SWAT standoff in Pleasant Grove was ordered by a Fourth District Court Judge to be released from jail without having to post bail.
The man, identified as 37-year-old Robert Clark, was taken into custody after law enforcement deployed gas canisters into the home where Clark had barricaded himself.
After Clark was released from jail on March 23, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement:
“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 Wednesday afternoon, the Utah Sheriff’s Association sent a statement to ABC4 urging Gov. Cox to repeal the “bail reform” bill:
“The criminal justice system is supposed to be designed to keep our communities safe, to protect the constitutional rights of individuals, and hold those convicted of crimes accountable.
In 2020, under the guise of the bill on “bail reform” (HB 206), the state inadvertently created a catch and release program that is failing to keep our communities safe. Thankfully, the legislature passed HB 220, which will repeal HB206 and allow policymakers to start over. Governor Cox needs to sign that bill today.”