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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
In 2015, Utah passed SB 82 to restrict the use of no-knock warrants by local departments. Both bills raised the standard needed to receive this type of warrant and codified protocols to acquire them.
Pending Legislation: HB. 245, introduced in January 2021,further limits the time of day and situational requirements for the use of no-knock warrants
Utah has not prohibited participation in the 1033 program, but the state does have a system in place mandating all 1033 equipment requests be approved by a state coordinator prior to transfer.
Military style training
Utah has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. However, some local departments, such as Salt Lake City PD, have shifted away from self-defense training in favor of an emphasis on fair and impartial policing.
The State of Utah collects records of SWAT team deployments by local departments. These reports are available to the public upon request.
Civil asset forfeiture
Utah has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture. Past efforts in the legislature stalled in both chambers.
A bill passed on March 19, 2018 banned punishment or sanctions for officers not handing out a certain amount of tickets. The bill also banned quotas for arrests. Any discipline, reward, or incentive for officers to increase their arrests or ticketing is also prohibited under this new law.
Cost of misconduct
Utah has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Utah has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering.
Objective justification for stops
Utah has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). On May 14, 2019 legislation was passed that allowed officers to stop and question anyone if they suspect said person has just committed or has reason to commit a crime.
Reporting stop details
Utah has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found).
Pending Legislation: HB. 84, introduced in January 2021, requires all local law enforcement offices to collect and submit comprehensive use of force data to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Reckless civil rights violation
Utah has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
Utah has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. In practice, few cops in Utah are accused of a crime, and even less are convicted. In the past decade, only 3 cops faced charges for shooting at a person and none were convicted.
Utah has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
Utah has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). Locally, Utah Mental Health Response: Salt Lake City established the Community Connection team in 2016 where social workers engage in ride-alongs with police officers. The organization works closely with the Salt Lake Police department to help with housing, finances, transportation, and employment opportunities for people in need. Between 2016 and 2017, seven thousand people were reportedly helped by this organization.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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