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Utah Legislative Committee Approves Bill To Limit Police Use Of Lethal Force

Photo of riot police in Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers
A bill seeks to limit when police can use lethal force.

Utah’s House Law Enforcement Committee unanimously passed a bill Monday that would limit when police can use lethal force.

Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring the legislation. It aims to prevent police from shooting someone having a suicidal crisis — as long as they aren’t a threat to someone else.

Rae Duckworth, an activist with Black Lives Matter Utah, helped Dailey-Provost present the bill. Officer Garrett Safely killed Duckworth’s cousin, Bobby, in Carbon County in 2019. Safely was responding to a call about a suicidal man.

“If this [bill] was active prior to Sept. 10, 2019, it could have saved Bobby’s life and encouraged Officer Safely to utilize less than lethal options and take necessary steps to conserve a life,” Duckworth said.

Taryn Hiatt, director for the Utah chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said when she teaches prevention courses, she is hesitant to recommend calling law enforcement.

“I, too, have a good friend whose brother was in a suicidal crisis,” Hiatt said. “When [she asked me] what she should do, I told her to call the police, and unfortunately, he was shot and killed. When I teach training, I encourage people to start with the lifeline and other resources.”

Hiatt said this bill will help encourage de-escalation and “will save lives.”

Representatives from law enforcement agencies also supported the bill, including the Utah Fraternal Order of Police and Utah Chiefs of Police Association.

It now goes onto the full House for consideration.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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