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AM News Brief: Fire Evacuations, Zion Water Tainted & Utahns Favor Police Reform

Salt Lake City police officers in riot gear lined up opposite protesters on Thursday evening.
Brian Albers
A new poll finds a majority of Utahns support certain measures of police reform. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, July 14, 2020


Most Utahns Favor Some Police Reform

A new poll finds a majority of Utahns support certain measures of police reform. The libertarian policy group Libertas Institute commissioned the poll and surveyed around 11,000 people. About 73% of respondents said police shouldn’t use no-knock warrants unless there is an immediate threat to someone’s life. Ninety percent said police officers who use excessive force should be suspended or fired, and 94% said officers who witness excessive force should be required to file reports. Other questions, like whether officers should be in schools or if people of color are treated differently in the state’s legal system, had more varied responses. — Caroline Ballard

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.


Northern Utah

Reconsidering Unified Police

The Midvale City Council recently stalled on a decision to pull out of the Unified Police Department, and Taylorsville has voted to exit the organization. Around a dozen communities in Salt Lake County pay to participate in the Unified Police Department. In exchange, UPD Det. Ken Hansen said cities get more cost-effective access to services like dispatch and forensics. But in 2018, Herriman and Riverton both decided to leave and create their own police departments. Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs said they pulled out due to cost and a lack of local control. Taylorsville intends to leave UPD by July 2021, while Midvale will revisit the issue. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

River In Zion Tainted With Algal Toxins

Harmful toxins from an algal bloom in the Virgin River have been discovered in Zion National Park. Park officials noticed bacteria from the bloom after a dog playing in the water on the Fourth of July likely died from exposure to it. Zion spokesperson Jeff Axel said park and state officials found samples three times higher than the state’s warning level. They are warning visitors to avoid swimming and drinking the water and to keep animals out of the river. — Lexi Peery

Veyo West Fire Forces Evacuations

The Veyo West Fire in the southwest corner of Utah forced evacuations on the west side of the town of Veyo and the village of Brookside. State fire officials said residents were allowed to return home early Tuesday morning. They were cleared out Monday night when the fire quickly grew from 50 acres to 1,100-plus in a portion of Washington County experiencing red flag conditions. That warning from the National Weather Service is in place through Tuesday night. The cause of the Veyo West Fire is under investigation. — Diane Maggipinto


Navajo COVID Cases

The Navajo Department of Health reported 56 new COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation on Monday, but no new deaths. Since the beginning of the outbreak, 401 people have died, nearly 5,900 have recovered, and the number of administered tests on the Navajo Nation is approaching 65,000, with nearly 8,200 positives. — Diane Maggipinto

CDC Accused Of Withholding COVID Data From Tribes

A group of senators including some from our region are calling on the CDC to explain why it appears to be withholding COVID-19 data from tribal epidemiologists. The Urban Indian Health Institute is one of 12 tribal epidemiology centers in the country. It said the CDC hasfailed to share key data with it about COVID-19 and other health data in Indigenous communities. In a statement, the agency said it is working with tribal epidemiology centers and expects to transfer COVID-19 case data this month. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

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