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Salt Lake NAACP, Utah Police Chiefs Association celebrate newly-passed police reform laws

Photo of Gov. Cox, Lt. Gov. Henderson and others.
Sonja Hutson
Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson held a ceremonial bill signing for several law enforcement and mental health bills Tuesday.

Utah police reform advocates and law enforcement officials are celebrating the passage of more legislation that seeks to cut down on misconduct.

Gov. Spencer Cox included one of them — S.B. 126 — in a ceremonial bill signing Tuesday. He already signed the bill, but uses events like this to call attention to certain legislation.

S.B. 126 requires law enforcement officers to intervene when they see police misconduct occurring — if they’re able to do it safely. It also requires the officer to report the misconduct and bars agencies from retaliating against the officer for reporting or intervening.

Lawmakers also passed H.B. 124, which restricts no-knock warrants. It bans the warrants for misdemeanor investigations. It also requires law enforcement officers to knock and demand entry more than once before entering if they have a “knock and announce” warrant.

“I think that we made more progress this year, in part because tensions have calmed,” said Ken Wallentine, West Jordan Police Chief and president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association. “I also think we made progress this year because many folks said, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. We need to get to the table and we need to have more participants in the discussion.’”

Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake NAACP, said that cooperation sets Utah apart from other states.

“It's because we are working together and we're not going out trying to say that what they're doing is always wrong and trying to go and criticize,” she said.

Both bills passed unanimously during this year’s legislative session. They’ll go into effect next month.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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