Former SLC Chief Says Some “Optics” Bad In Chamber Protest And Police Response

Jul 11, 2019, 10:25 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Police on Thursday said multiple reviews would look at Tuesday’s inland port protest at the building that houses the Salt Lake Chamber, as well as officers’ response to the matter.

10 people were arrested and police said demonstrators and officers alike were left with minor injuries.

In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said an internal affairs audit and after-action review would also take place.

The Civilian Review Board will look into Tuesday’s events as well, Brown confirmed.

The timetables for the individual reviews remained unclear as police continued to wade through 119 body camera angles, among other video sources.

The city’s former chief, Chris Burbank, noted several potential points of interest—from the actions of individual officers to violence initiated by protestors.

“There are people who are absolutely intent on assaulting police officers,” Burbank said, after reviewing some of the footage captured by KSL.

Burbank noted that context was going to be important in the review of any individual action, but he pointed to two interactions that could get a closer look, including one where an officer appears to grab the throat of a protestor and another where an officer is seen closed-fist punching at another demonstrator.

“It’s not a good look for a police officer because there’s no intent to take that person into custody,” Burbank said.

Burbank said in the case of the punch that though the “optics” were bad, what took place may have been perfectly lawful and even potentially within the guidelines of department policy.

“Someone strikes the officer, the officer strikes them back?” Burbank explained. “Under state law, that’s appropriate behavior. They’re not going to prosecute him for that.”

Burbank commended some of the de-escalation tactics captured on body camera during one officer’s interactions with protestors upstairs.

In the video, the officer could be heard calmly giving demonstrators multiple opportunities to leave before being arrested.

“They’re doing some great things!” Burbank said.

The chief said he’d like to know more about what police knew ahead of time about the protest and what strategy the department had in place to respond to it.

“What I’m a little critical of is, what’s the plan here?” Burbank questioned. “Policing is about responding to what’s in front of you at the moment, but if there’s an avenue to pre-plan, to prepare, to create walkways, spaces and those types of things—that should have been done.”

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Former SLC Chief Says Some “Optics” Bad In Chamber Protest And Police Response