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AM News Brief: Police Reform Signed, Monument Review Extended & White Supremacy Propaganda On The Rise

Photo of a line of police officers in front of a government building.
Kelsie Moore for KUER
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Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed another 130 bills into law Wednesday, including several addressing police reform. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, March 18, 2021

State

Governor Approves Police Reform Laws

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed another 130 bills into law Wednesday, including several addressing police reform. One requires training officers about autism spectrum disorder. A second mandates that law enforcement agencies give information about an employee to another agency that requests it for hiring purposes. Under a different measure, the statewide Peace Officer Standards and Training Council must create a minimum use of force standard.

Cox also signed bills that create a statewide homeless services coordinator and form a task force to study food insecurity. In yet another, universities will not be able to require their students receive vaccinations in order to attend in person class. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Is Utah Ready For The Next Earthquake?

One year ago, the Magna Earthquake caused widespread damage to buildings in and around Salt Lake County. No one was seriously injured, but scientists say when the next major earthquake hits, the state may not be so lucky. State Historic Preservation Officer Chris Merritt said that while the state responded well to the emergency, he worries not enough has been done to ensure older buildings can withstand the next major event. Short of costly renovations, however, people can still prepare by creating emergency plans and having disaster supplies kits on hand. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Monument Review Extended, New Interior Secretary To Visit Utah

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland plans to visit Utah next month to tour Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. President Joe Biden initiated a 60-day review of their boundaries on his Inauguration Day. That was set to end Sunday, but it was extended to allow Haaland, who was confirmed on Monday, time to visit Utah. Utah’s congressional delegation and state leaders praised the visit and the extension. They’re asking the Biden administration not to use executive action to restore the monuments. Instead, they are pushing for a legislative solution. They met with tribal leaders Wednesday to discuss their proposal for Bears Ears. A staff member for the Intertribal Coalition said the meeting did not result in any agreements. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Region/Nation

FBI Opens Two Cold Cases From Four Corners Region

The FBI Denver Division is reopening cold cases of missing persons and homicides on two reservations in Southwest Colorado. The agency is seeking help from the public in the disappearance and murder of Odell Vest. He was last seen in the Four-Corners area in July, 2000. Another cold case is from January 2004 in the same area. An FBI statement said Avery Whiteskunk’s body was recovered on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation three months after he disappeared. There's a $10,000 reward in each case for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the homicides. — Bob Nelson

Huntsmans Says American Values Should Guide China Relations

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is calling on American businesses to stay true to democratic and free market values when dealing with China. Huntsman, who served as ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011, made the comments Wednesday during a virtual panel discussion hosted by World Trade Center Utah. “We should never back down from our traditional values,” he said. “The Chinese are looking for us to do that, and that will be a display of weakness. And moreover, we will cease to become the guiding light in the world that many are looking to.” — Sonja Hutson

White Supremacy Propaganda Grew In 2020

The Mountain West saw a dramatic increase in white supremacist propaganda last year, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League. The group just looked at physical propaganda like fliers, posters and stickers, which more than doubled in some states in our region. The study found that most of the propaganda came from a few factions including one called the Patriot Front which has been active in the region in the past. The ADL said these hateful groups took advantage of heightened political anxiety last year to try and recruit more followers. The report found 66 instances of white supremacist propaganda reported in Utah in 2020 — 30 more than in 2019. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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