SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Wanted felons escaping Utah and starting a life in another state. It happens more often than you think.
“It continues to happen. It’s a huge public safety issue,” said Matthew Harris, U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah.
His team compiled research and found that in 2016, out of 19,171 Utahns with felony warrants, only 1,582 of them were entered into the National Crime Information Center.
NCIC alerts police that they’re dealing with someone who has an active warrant in another state and could be a potential threat.
“The men and women who are on the roads, who are making the traffic stops, who are alone on a 40 mile stretch of highway by themselves, they need all the information they can get on that traffic stop,” explained Harris.
Brian Redd can relate. He started his career as a state trooper on Interstate 70 at the Utah-Colorado border.
“I would make traffic stops, and on many occasions when I ran an individual, they would show up having a felony warrant that was non-extraditable. So as an officer working alone, it was nice to know that I was dealing with a violent person with a violent felony,” Redd, now the Chief of Utah Department of Public Safety, State Bureau of Investigation.
To help keep officers safe, lawmakers passed House Bill 478 this legislative session. It requires violent felons and those who fail to register as sex offenders to be entered into NCIC.
“The officer on that traffic stop in whatever state, is now safer because Utah became a leader in this issue,” said Harris.
According to Redd, the cost of reprogramming the system at the Bureau of Criminal Identification, so that the violent felony entries can automatically be entered into NCIC, cost Utah a one time fee of $76,400.
He says it’s a step in the right direction.
“We work really hard connecting the dots in solving crime and this is just another dot that we can use to reduce the threats in our community.”
Redd agrees with Harris and hopes other states will adopt the law so when violent felons enter Utah, officers will know whom they’re dealing with.
“As a career law enforcement officer, you would like to have that in other states as well. To know that people who are stopped on our highways, who have felonies in other states, that our troopers and our officers and our law enforcement are safe,” said Harris.