(KCPW News) Utah lawmakers are set to consider dozens of bills aimed at changing how law enforcement goes about its business. The police reform efforts come in the wake of a summer of protests that erupted nationwide after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
(RELATED: Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill on police reform measures at the legislature)
Salt Lake Democratic Rep. Angela Romero says two measures she is sponsoring this session emerged from her discussions with community groups and law enforcement over the past months.
HB 162 – Peace Officer Training Amendments, would increase the amount of de-escalation training officers receive as part of their 40 hours of career-related training every year.
“I want 16 of those hours to be de-escalation and CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training,” Romero told KCPW. “It’s about learning ways to de-escalate a situation where a gun doesn’t have to be used.”
Meanwhile, Romero’s HB 84 – Use of Force Reporting Requirements, would amend state code to require law enforcement to gather and report data in accordance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection program.
“We need better data collection to understand what is happening when the incidents occur,” Romero says.
Among the various other police reform bills up for discussion at the 2021 legislative session:
HB 59 – Law Enforcement Investigation Amendments
Sandy Democratic Rep. Andrew Stoddard’s bill would criminalize the misuse of “intimate images” provided as evidence to law enforcement during an investigation. Stoddard says the bill is in response to the revelation in The Salt Lake Tribune that explicit images in the case of University of Utah track athlete Lauren McCluskey may have been displayed inappropriately by a campus officer.
HB 154 – Use of Force Revisions
Morgan Republican Rep. Kera Birkeland’s measure would both prohibit the use of force by officers against someone who is already detained or complying with officers, and would require fellow officers to intervene if they witnessed an officer violating department policies or laws.
Various other proposals are on the table at this year’s session. Rep. Romero says she’s uncertain the same pressure to enact reforms will be present as was there during the summer.
“The public definitely needs to reach out to my colleagues and explain to them why they’d like to see reform now,” she said.
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