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Salt Lake City Announces Changes To Police Use Of Force, Body Cam Policies

Emily Means
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown announced seven changes to policing policies Monday.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has something in common with community members who have taken to the streets over the past couple of months.

“As a younger person, protesting was the path that I took when I wanted to see change, and it led me to policy making,” Mendenhall said. “Let’s continue on this path of progress as a community that is united.”

Mendenhall and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown announced seven changes to policing policies Monday. The reforms come in response to ongoing protests against racial injustice and law enforcement’s use of force. 

The mayor said she’s been listening to the public’s concerns, and that communities deserve law enforcement that serves everyone.

“To that end, we are committed to making meaningful institutional changes to the way that our city is policed,” she said. “[And] reforms that build trust and operate on transparency.”

The reforms address three different policy areas: use of force, search and seizure and body-worn cameras.

Under the use-of-force policy, officers will be required to use de-escalation tactics before using force. That could include using communication or other strategies to get someone to comply with an arrest.

For the search-and-seizure change, law enforcement needs to get verbal or written consent from someone before officers search their property without a warrant.

As for the department’s body cam policy, officers will now be disciplined for failing to turn their cameras on or intentionally turning them off. Since this creates the potential for disciplinary action, Mendenhall said the city has to give the police union 30 days to comment and respond to the change. 

Brown said his department has worked to adapt and update the way it operates — and that the new policies aren’t just words.

“We will take the time necessary to ensure that the department reads them, that they understand them and, most importantly, that we train to these changes,” Brown said.

Mendenhall issued an executive order that requires Brown to implement the changes by Sept. 5. 

Salt Lake City recently created the Commission on Racial Equity in Policing, which will recommend additional changes to the mayor and city council.

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