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SLC Mayor signs executive order for police reform

Posted at 5:09 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 23:26:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an executive order Monday directing SLCPD Chief Mike Brown to implement several changes to the department's policies.

“The people of this community deserve a city that is equitable for all who reside here. We are committed to that, and meaningful institutional changes to the way our city is policed are a key ingredient in that progress,” said Mayor Mendenhall in a news release. “These seven reforms are the beginning of our work, not the end. We will see additional reforms in the coming weeks and months. My priority is that these reforms improve officer safety and public safety, which is a balance we have worked and will continue to work collaboratively to achieve.”

The order affects SLCPD's policies regarding the use of force, search and seizure and body-worn cameras and are to be implemented in SLCPD's Policy Manual by September 5.

“This is not a radical shift for us. Many of these changes we understand to be best practices. We’ve always held change and evolution as a pillar of our training and that is why we are the best department with the most opportunities,” Chief Brown said in the news release, and adding during a press conference, "We will take the time to make sure our department reads them, understands them and that we train with these changes.”

Use of Force
Under the new policies, which are to be enacted in SLCPD's Policy Manual by September 5, police will be required to use de-escalation techniques, unless it is unreasonable to do so, before using force.

Officers will be required to intercede when they believe fellow officers are about to use force or other action that is "illegal, excessive, or inconsistent with policy."

When making arrests, officers will be required to use de-escalation tactics, effective communication techniques and other techniques to achieve voluntary compliance, as considered reasonable, before using force.

Deadly Force Applications
The policy will include definitions of "necessary" and "imminent" to "ensure that deadly force will only be used in limited situations where the threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others is impending and no other use of force would subdue the threat."

The use of force policies will further require officers to specify which de-escalation techniques and warnings were given before their use of force. The "Medical Consideration" policy will include "a provision that persons under an officer's control must be positioned in a way so as not to obstruct breathing."

Two levels of supervisors will be required to review every use of force, including those that did not result in injuries.

A new section of the department's policies will state officers "shall not contribute to a situation in a manner that could lead to use of force by taking unnecessary, overly aggressive action," the executive order states.

Search and Seizure
Officers will be required to get verbal (if recorded on body-worn camera) and/or written consent to search vehicles and property without a warrant, and inform people of their right to refuse to consent to a search "and limit the scope and time of any such search."

Body Worn Cameras
A new policy will go beyond the Utah State Code's requirements "to include specific interdisciplinary considerations that will govern officers who fail to activate body-worn cameras or intentionally de-activate them."

Further details on SLCPD's new policies and policy changes are expected later this week.

“Every state deserves this," said Lex Scott with Black Lives Matter Utah. "We’re not going to stop here -- this is a battle that we won, and we will win this war.”

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill praised the decision, saying in a statement:

“I applaud Mayor Mendenhall for following through, as she said she would, on a reasonable and thoughtful approach to reform. This is a step in the right direction, we can all be hopeful by her courage and leadership.”