Lawmakers Examining Utah’s Use Of Deadly Force Laws

Jul 14, 2020, 8:41 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Lawmakers said change is coming when it comes to the legal use of deadly force by Utah police officers.

It’s a discussion expected to be at the forefront in next year’s legislative session. That’s because it is lawmakers who set the statute governing the use of force, and Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, is expecting it to change. 

It’s not going to be business as usual, Romero told KSL. I think right now the climate is right. People on both sides of the aisle want to talk about this. The community is telling us you need to do something differently and we need to really listen and what I see right now are people feeling that we, as elected officials, are not listening to them.”

While speaking, Romero held in her hand 22 police reform proposals emailed to her by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, who sent them to Utah lawmakers and government leaders.

There are a lot of great ideas in here, said Romero. It’s not a Democrat, it’s not a Republican issue, this is a human rights issue, and this is why we need to do something and do it now.

Chris Burbank spent nine years as Salt Lake Citys police chief and is now a vice president with the Center for Policing Equity, an organization that collects data on policing, including the use of deadly force.

This is the type of legislation that needs to take place across the country, Burbank said. It doesn’t change the standard that you can use force whatsoever, what it does is it changes the consideration that goes into using it.

For example, look at the circumstances surrounding the shooting, rather than just the shooting itself. 

What are my alternatives? Why are you and I having this conversation in the first place? Is this my only option? Do I immediately need to do this? said Burbank about the questions officers should be asking.

KSL reached out to the Salt Lake City Police Department and the new Salt Lake City Commission on Racial Equality.

Both were still studying the reform proposals and not prepared to give a response.

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Lawmakers Examining Utah’s Use Of Deadly Force Laws