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Utah allowing police agencies to report bad cops to other agencies

Utah is among a number of states that are allowing police agencies to report bad cops to other agencies. (PHOTO: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is among a growing number of states allowing police agencies to report bad cops to other agencies.

Police agencies encouraged to share information

In March, Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill that provides legal immunity to law enforcement agencies that share background information about ex-employees with other agencies looking to hire.

The piece of legislation was introduced by Democratic state Sen. Jani Iwamoto.

“It makes it so proper information is given from a former employer to a prospective employer and that good players stay in the system and bad players leave the system,” Iwamoto said in February. “Right now, a law enforcement agency is not as forthcoming because of the fear of being sued.”

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She said the bill was inspired by the case of a University of Utah officer who resigned for allegedly sharing explicit photos of a victim. Officer Miguel Deras was later hired by police in Logan, who did not know about the probe.

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In August 2020, he was released following “a thorough internal review of the recently completed Department of Public Safety investigation … The conclusions drawn in the DPS report are inconsistent with the high expectations and standards placed upon our officers by the community and our department.”

The firing of Deras came one day after students at the University of Utah rallied for him to be fired and for University police to be disbanded.

Iwamoto also successfully sponsored a bill that ensures police disciplinary investigations are completed even if an officer resigns while one is in progress.

The actions to increase law enforcement transparency are part of a larger national trend, where more than 20 other states are considering measures to make the disciplinary records of police officers public.

Supporters of the measures said it will help improve police accountability, while opponents argue it may harm the reputation of officers with only minor infractions.

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