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Salt Lake Police Association expresses issues with mayor's police reforms

Posted at 8:51 PM, Aug 10, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake Police Association, a union representing more than 400 Salt Lake City Police officers, is criticizing recent executive action taken by Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

Last week, Mendenhall announced an executive order detailing several police reforms on the issue of use of force.

Hundreds of officers and their supporters gathered outside police headquarters Monday as a spokesperson read a prepared statement explaining the association’s issues with the actions taken by the mayor.

“We reject the mayor’s claim of racial and social disparities across all Salt Lake City agencies and institutions. We work every day with the employees in those agencies and institutions, and the mayor’s claim wrongfully and insultingly disparages her own employees,” read Officer Jon Fitisemanu.

The association says its members have been attacked both physically and verbally, with some officers suffering injuries in recent months during several acts of civil unrest in the city. Despite those attacks, officers have come to work every day to protect the public.

The association described the executive order as illustrating a "fundamental misunderstanding" of police use of force.

“While the mayor may direct changes to police policy, she may not set aside Utah law or an officer’s individual right to protect themselves or others when threatened with force,” Fitisemanu said.

The Salt Lake Police Association did not field questions following the reading of the statement.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued the following statement:

“Being the best police department doesn't just happen, it takes continual work and a commitment to improve as best practices evolve. We agree with SLPA that our department is full of good police officers who show up every day with the goal of protecting every resident equally. It's in the spirit of constant improvement that my administration collaborated with Chief Brown and his team on reforms announced last week. We hope that as their remarks today indicated, SLPA plans to provide their input on the policy changes that will be implemented on September 5 and we look forward to their collaboration and feedback as the Commission on REP makes additional recommendations. It takes all of us to do the work of making a more equitable Salt Lake City.”