Utah lawmakers pass bill that allows non-citizens to become police officers

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Gov. Spencer Cox now will decide whether to sign the bill that green lights non-citizens to become law enforcement officers in Utah.

Requirements include 5 years of living in the United States, legal residence,and legal authorization to work.

“In talking to chiefs, this would really help relieve the stress that they have on hiring people,” said Rep. Paul Ray, who sponsored the bill in the House.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera also supports the bill. It’s a positive step toward making police departments more diverse, she says, and better represent their communities.

She acknowledged, too, that recruiting police officers in 2021 is a challenge.

“Recruiting is very tough right now. And there are a lot of individuals who don’t want to go into law enforcement. And there’s a lot of law enforcement officers who don’t want to do it anymore, simply because of the climate now. And so, we can see it’s going to become even more of a challenge,” said Rivera.

Rep. Paul Ray says the 5-year requirement gives law enforcement agencies enough time to properly vet prospective law enforcement officers.

“If they were in trouble in their former country, they come here — if they’re a person that gets in trouble, that’s going to happen in that 5-year period,” said Ray.

Still, Sheriff Rivera says conducting background checks could pose difficulties.

“There are challenges though, especially with the refugee community to do background checks. Because some of them come from war zones or countries that we can’t go back and find their history, what their work history was, or what their childhood was,” said Rivera.

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Glen Mills

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...