Chief Brown reflects on violent Salt Lake protests as one year anniversary looms
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown is reflecting almost one year after protests turned violent in the downtown area.
Learning from a violent day
On that Saturday in late May 2020, he says officers were attacked with rocks, street signs and pepper spray.
In total, 24 officers were injured that day.
“Never seen anything like that,” he admitted to KSL-TV. “We’ve had protests and we’ve had small things of civil unrest, but nothing like we saw on May 30. We just weren’t ready for what we got.”
He points out that those events weren’t just one singular event, but that Salt Lake officers responded to around 300 protests and marches last year alone.
Some of the 40+ officers who have left @slcpd in the past year have said they didn’t feel supported by the department. I asked @ChiefMikeBrown about that as well. We hit on a lot of topics today and nothing was off the table. Our story runs tonight @KSL5TV at 10. #ksltv pic.twitter.com/X7pKhPnDrz
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) May 27, 2021
Rebuilding trust and teaching diversity
In his opinion, that repetition provided some valuable experience on how to better handle similar situations in the future.
For example, a demonstration outside the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office was handled much differently than the May 30 violent protest.
“From the time that was declared an unlawful assembly until we had shut that down and moved people out… 18 minutes,” he explained. “That’s a stark difference.”
Now, he says the emphasis is on rebuilding trust with the community and improving their internal practices.
“As we get more officers in our department, we’ll have more time to do those things, but those are a priority,” he said. “Those are the things that people want.”
He adds that around 30 new officers are in training right now to eventually join the department. It comes after they lost roughly 45 officers last year due to retirement and resignation.
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