SUGAR HOUSE (ABC4 News) – In the wake of the murder of landlord David Stokoe, police want you to know that you don’t have to go alone to confront someone that may become agitated or even violent.
Tenant Manuel Velasquez was arrested for homicide after Stokoe’s body was found Friday in a rental unit of a house on the corner of Princeton Avenue and 900 East.
Stokoe previously had problems with the tenants. In fact, he said that he was concerned about going there to collect the rent last Thursday.
“He just mentioned to a few of his workers, a few of his partners at work that he was a little bit nervous,” his friend Nate Brusik said.
Law enforcement officers can go along to monitor situations like that. Salt Lake Unified Police Sergeant Melody Gray says it’s called a “standby assist.”
“Requesting police assistance to go with you just to make sure that nothing happens while you’re there,” Sgt. Gray explained.
It’s not just for landlord-tenant disputes and evictions. Officers will serve and protect whenever there’s a potential for conflict.
“We do standby assists for all kinds of things,” Sergeant Brandon Shearer told ABC4 News. “Whether its a child custody exchange or retrieval of property from somewhere there’s all kinds of things that we are called to stand by and assist.”
“When people have domestic disputes is probably one of the most common ones,” Sgt. Gray said. “When one party is moving out we’ll go along and stand by and keep the peace while they’re able to retrieve some personal property…Any time there’s a potential for danger. I mean we do these kinds of calls on a daily basis.”
Sgt. Shearer says officers will not get involved in the conflicts, saying that they are there to prevent problems not to solve them.
Officers typically will not go along if you’re meeting someone to buy or sell items. They advise doing that in a well lit public place during daytime hours.