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Police training bills pass Utah House Committee, advance to Senate

Posted at 7:00 AM, Feb 22, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee approved a trio of bills dealing with police training Monday.

One would require officers to be trained on autism spectrum disorder mental illnesses. In September, a a Salt Lake City officer shot and injured a 13-year-old boy with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome after receiving a request for help from the boy’s mother.

"I think as much as our autism families don’t want to have a negative situation neither does the officer," said Cheryl Smith, a supporter of the bill."This training will give officers real insight into specific behavior, communication, and de-escalation techniques."

Another bill up for discussion would require training for officers to recognize domestic violence and update reporting policies.

A third bill would alter the circumstances in which an officer can use deadly force, lowering the standard for police to be immune from prosecution and lawsuits.

"It could have saved my cousin Bobby in the end so I’m glad that we have the bill supported and now we can move forward so we don’t repeat history with these situations," said Rae Duckworth, Black Lives Matter Utah.

The bills will now go to the Utah Senate for further consideration.