CRIME

Bill would require Utah police officers to train on responding to hate crimes

Feb 9, 2022, 11:35 AM
Rep. Karen Kwan is presenting a bill to educate police officers on how to handle reports of hate cr...
House Minority Whip Karen Kwan, D-Murray, speaks at a press conference outlining the Democrats’ legislative priorities for the year at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Day 3 of the Utah  legislative session, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill on Utah’s Capitol Hill would require police officers to be trained to identify and respond to hate crimes. 

House Minority Whip Karen Kwan, D-Murray, told the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee that there has been an increase in violence targeting people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage in recent years. 

“It’s actually an increase starting from the pandemic,” Kwan said. “And we saw quite a bit of anti-Asian violence in the nation related to misconceptions and stereotypes about where the virus came from.” 

Kwan said her bill would try to address that increase in hate crimes. It would also bring Utah in line with federal standards.

Hate crimes have been increasing, and underreported

Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, told the same committee there is also an issue with underreporting race-based crimes in Utah. 

“Not only from a law enforcement perspective not recognizing it as a hate crime, but people don’t report it as a hate crime because there is this disconnection that’s going on with our community,” Hollins said. 

Nate Mutter, the assistant chief investigator at the Utah Attorney General’s Office, spoke in support of the proposal. 

“When we’re teaching our officers about things like theft, vandalism, assault and those types of crimes, it’s good to teach them to look a little deeper,” Mutter said. “Vandalism may not just be vandalism. And assault may not just be assault.” 

The bill received overwhelming support from the committee and now moves on to the full House.

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Bill would require Utah police officers to train on responding to hate crimes