Utah police reform, one year after the death of George Floyd: activists seek more
SALT LAKE CITY – Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, which sparked debates about police reform all over the country. In Utah, some community advocates said positive changes have been made.
However, they believe sweeping Utah police reform is still needed.
On one hand, officials with Black Lives Matter Utah (BLM Utah) are pleased with the Salt Lake City Police Department for bringing in specialized rifles that fire less-lethal rounds which can subdue someone without causing severe injury.
On the other hand, they believe other steps taken by lawmakers were really just for show. Chapter President Lex Scott says H.B 5007 prohibited police from using chokeholds, but law enforcement agencies already banned their use.
One thing they still want is local oversight of police use-of-force cases. Scott said they don’t want police investigating police misconduct.
“They didn’t give them to us in the legislature, so we’re going to gather signatures for a ballot initiative,” she said.
Utah police reform would benefit from national reforms
Another thing BLM Utah supports is the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Scott says that would provide the kind of sweeping reform that’s needed across the country.
“It gives us a nationwide police misconduct database,” Scott said. “It regulates data collection, body-cam footage legislation, and dash-cam footage legislation.”
BLM Utah is also pushing for the end of “qualified immunity,” which protects police agencies from lawsuits in use-of-force cases. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) says Congress should do a better job of defining qualified immunity since the current statute leaves that definition up to the courts.
“I think police officers could benefit from it, and so could advocates for those who have suffered as a result of police misconduct,” Lee told KSL Newsradio’s Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson.
However, he says police reform is a tricky and delicate balance. Sen. Lee said that if the federal government makes too many regulations, it could interfere with the good work being done on local levels.
“They get less accountable to those they serve,” Sen. Lee said. ” That, in turn, translates to higher rates of crime.”
Today’s Top Stories
- Two employees found unconscious at Northrop Grumman, died later at hospital
- When it’s this cold, keep your pipes from freezing. Here’s how.
- Monday morning’s cold temperatures nearly set new records
- Police investigating fatal auto-pedestrian crash in Salt Lake City
- Suspect still at large after double homicide in Taylorsville
- Herd of elk pushed away from I-80 and moved back into mountains
- South Jordan could see new housing development
- Citing ‘dangerously low’ overnight temps, county opens emergency shelter
- The road home is in need of donations and volunteers this winter
- Governor Spencer Cox signs transgender bill, releases statement