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Police department looks at impact of new bills passed

Apr 03, 2022 07:23PM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

South Salt Lake law enforcement is an area affected by various legislation passed by the 2022 Utah State Legislature.

“Overall, I feel the 2022 legislative session produced well-needed change with law enforcement as we all work toward strengthening public trust within our communities,” South Salt Lake Police Department Chief Jack Carruth said. “There was a total of 132 bills that were being watched statewide by our sheriffs and police chiefs this session, only nine of those that were opposed by the Utah Law Enforcement Legislative Committee. I give credit to all our law enforcement leaders statewide for the outstanding work accomplished in this year’s session.” 

Twenty-nine bills passed affect how police officers do their work.

HB 23 – First Responder Mental Health Services Amendments

This bill “creates a grant program for mental health resources for first responders.” This bill requires all first responder agencies such as police and fire to provide mental health resources for employees, spouses, children and retirees. Grant funds are available to help comply with this bill.

The South Salt Lake Police Department and SSL Fire Department currently have an existing Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) with The Partridge Psychological Group, PLLC, to meet these services. 

“The session also recognized some of the needs of first responders with respect to HB 23, recognizing the lasting physical and emotional impacts police work has on those serving,” Carruth said. 

HB 123 – Use of Force Revisions

HB 123 “sets a timeline for completion on investigations into an officer’s use of force.” Once the investigation is turned over to the District Attorney’s office, the DA has 180 days to release their findings or post a reasonable estimation of when the results will be released.

HB 124 –Forcible Entry Warrant Modifications

This bill “provides parameters for knock and announce, and no-knock warrants and specifies the conditions under which they may be acquired and used.” In addition, the bill requires “officers serving knock and announce and no-knock warrants to wear readily identifiable markings or clothing that identify them as law enforcement officers and requires that officers knock and announce themselves more than once before forcibly entering a building.”

HB 171 second substitution – Custodial Interrogative Amendments

This bill deals with how police officers can interrogate a minor. Officers cannot provide false information about evidence that is reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.

HB 345 – Public Safety Employee Personal Data Amendments

HB 345 adds individuals such as dispatchers, retired employees, or contractors to a law enforcement agency or prison/jail whose private information must be treated as confidential.

HB 399 – Government Record Amendments

This bill was a high priority for law enforcement. The bill states that a statement by a police officer under Garrity is a protected record under Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). Garrity is a legal principle that protects public employees from being compelled to incriminate themselves during an investigative interview. The principle is named after Edward Garrity, who was investigated for traffic ticket-fixing. He and others were threatened with termination if they did not answer questions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such action violated the employees’ Fifth and 14th Amendments.

SB 126 – Officer Intervention and Reporting Amendments

SB 126 “sets minimum standards for officer intervention and reporting of police misconduct.” Police misconduct is defined as “force that is clearly excessive,” an unlawful search or seizure without a warrant or biased or discriminatory conduct based on such things as race, age, gender.

The duty for one officer to intervene only applies for force or unlawful search and seizure. The intervention is only required if it is safe for the officer to intervene. If not, the officer only must report it.

There are provisions to protect the intervening officer against retaliation by the department or other officers.

SSLPD has until July 1, 2022, to adopt written policies conforming to the minimum standards.

Other bills

There were four bills involving sex crimes, four victim-centric bills, and three bills involving DUI situations.