SAFETY

Department of Public Safety says its seen an uptick in threats made, especially against officials

Jul 20, 2022, 7:46 AM | Updated: 3:12 pm
The state Capitol building. Threats against Utah lawmakers have increased...
The Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, March 5, 2021, the final day of the Utah Legislature's 2021 general session. (Annie Barker/Deseret News)
(Annie Barker/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — There has been an uptick in cases of threats, according to the Department of Public Safety. The number of threats the agency investigated increased in the last year, with many of them being against Utah lawmakers.

Lt. Nick Street, spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety, there was about a 5% jump in cases over a year’s time.

“So 2019, we were under 100 [cases]. And then 2020 we went over 100 coming into our threat management unit,” Street said. “I believe we saw a 5% increase to date from what we had last year, so we’re on track to see over 100 in 2022.”

Street said that although targets aren’t limited in scope, on the heels of recent elections and after more than 2-years of COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates, threats against lawmakers and state health officials are helping to drive those numbers up.

Some threats are veiled and made over social media and can be handled or defused. 

“Threat management is not something that happens in the shadows. It’s a very public thing where we involve a lot of members of the community to work through issues of things like bullying, to grievances with elected leaders, to grievances to other systems of government” Street said.

Other times, more action is needed. Street said that sometimes people voice a concern “above and beyond what might be healthy.”

When that happens, the DPS uses a multi-disciplinary approach to figure out if someone is on a path to violence. The agency uses standardized tools created by mental health experts to deal with a threat they believe might lead to violence.

“Our goal is to manage that, steer them away from that, and continue to use community support to keep them from going down that path again,” Street explained.

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Department of Public Safety says its seen an uptick in threats made, especially against officials