Governor signs a dozen new law enforcement bills into law
SANDY, Utah — Utah’s governor signed 12 different pieces of legislation into law Wednesday, all aimed at improving local law enforcement, just one day after a jury convicted a former Minnesota police officer of murder in the death of a Black man.
The timing was not lost on Gov. Spencer Cox.
“You can be both pro-police and anti-murder,” said Cox.
Governor: law enforcement changes came from bipartisan work
He said these new laws should serve as an example that we can achieve meaningful change through dialogue.
“Law enforcement and community partners came together to find better ways to do things,” he said. “There is a better way to do this, and this is that. We have twelve bills here today. These bills were sponsored and passed by Republicans and Democrats together.”
The bills, now law, impact law enforcement in a variety of ways, ranging from how officers report the use of force to training on interactions with people with special needs.
Continued conversation, transparency needed
Cox said the goal of strengthening relationships between law enforcement and the community they serve doesn’t stop here. Rather, it will take continued conversation and transparency.
“I’m grateful for our community activists that are here representing those communities who have been impacted, often disproportionately impacted, over years and years,” he said.
— John Wojcik (@wojKSL) April 21, 2021
“What we try to do here in Utah is to always be better,” he added. “It’s not a Democrat thing, it’s not a Republican thing, it’s just a good thing — it’s a human thing.”
And thanks to @GovCox for his statement that you can be both pro-law enforcement and anti-murder. I love working with law enforcement and I believe the laws that were passed will help them receive better training and help us receive better data.
— Andrew Stoddard (@RepAStoddard) April 21, 2021
A closer look at the laws
The legislation signed into law by the governor Wednesday includes the following law enforcement bills:
- HB 162, Peace Officer Training Amendments – requires training annually specifically focused on de-escalation techniques, and standardizes training for officers across the state.
- HB 345, School Resource Officer Amendments – establishes policies, procedures and training for school resource officers.
- HB 334, Special Needs Training for Law Enforcement – requires training for officers for responding to people with special needs, such as autism, mental illnesses, etc.
- HB 62, POST Certification Amendments – adds dishonesty, deception, and bias to the reasons why an officer may be reprimanded or lose his or her badge.
- SB 106, Use of Force Amendments – establishes a statewide standard for when an officer may use force, which was previously handled department-by-department.
- HB 237, Lethal Force Amendments – places new limits on when police can use deadly force when someone only poses a danger to themselves.
- HB 84, Use of Force Reporting Requirements – requires Utah agencies to meet the FBI’s standards for reporting uses of force.
- SB 159, Law Enforcement Data Management Requirements – sets up a panel to make recommendations on data collection related to public safety in Utah.
- HB 22, Medical Examiner Amendments – requires the state medical examiner to investigate deaths resulting from the actions of a law enforcement officer.
- HB 264, Law Enforcement Weapons Use Amendments – requires an officer to file a report anytime a weapon, including a TASER, is pointed at someone, whether the weapon was deployed or not.
- SB 13, Law Enforcement Internal Investigation Requirements – makes some changes to internal investigation requirements, including that agencies report certain types of investigations to POST, which governs statewide standards and training.
- HB 67, Juvenile Sentencing Amendments – closes a loophole that could allow some juvenile offenders to be released early once they turn 18.
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