SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed 12 new bills reforming law enforcement on Wednesday, just one day after the former police officer who killed George Floyd was convicted of murder, but the timing was unintentional.
What was intentional was the response from Utah lawmakers during the past legislative session, who saw the need for reform after protests and pleas from community advocates.
“What we try to do here in Utah is to always be better, to learn from our past mistakes and to improve,” said Governor Cox during the ceremonial signings.
New laws include increased training on de-escalation during an arrest, including people suffering a mental health crisis.
Internal investigations into misconduct will now continue even if an officer leaves their job. Data will also be collected for every use-of-force incident and whenever an officer points a gun or taser at someone.
Community leaders agree with these changes. “They were all very important. I think it is a step forward in the right direction with law enforcement and the community working together," said Jeanetta Williams, President of the NAACP of Salt Lake.
H.B. 84 would require law enforcement agencies to report data regarding use-of-force incidents to the Bureau of Criminal Identification.
H.B. 162 would require part of officers’ annual training hours to include a focus on “mental health and other crisis intervention responses, arrest control, and de-escalation training.”
Despite these victories, many other law enforcement bills did not pass during the last legislative session, but Rep. Romero says, "This isn't the end. It's just the begining for us."