Two more bills on police reform filed in Utah legislature

Posted at 4:58 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 19:45:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Police reform continues to take priority for lawmakers halfway through the legislative session. Two more bills addressing problem police officers were filed Tuesday.

The bills would make it easier to file a lawsuit against an officer or protect a former employer from getting sued by an officer.

“We want to root out the bad apples, in other words,” said Rep. Brian King (D-Salt Lake City).

King introduced House Bill 367, which would allow police officers and their departments to be sued when the plaintiff’s rights are egregiously violated.

“We want to balance the scales evenly to require accountability and personal responsibility from the police officers, while at the same time make it difficult for people to file frivolous lawsuits and get anywhere with that,” King said.

In turn, each law enforcement officer in the state must be insured $50,000 for any possible litigation.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s causing a lot of angst among police officers and their families,” said executive director of Utah Fraternal Order of Police Ian Adams.

While Rep. King insists he not anti-law enforcement, Adams argues officers are unfairly being singled out.

“That kind of big, complicated bill is going to require a lot more than a quiet, middle of the night launch where he won’t even take in the lived experience and concerns of police officers and their families," Adams said.

The state’s largest union collaborated with Sen. Jani Iwamoto’s latest bill. Senate Bill 196 protects law enforcement if they share information about an officer to another agency, specifically during the hiring process.

“This is to allow for the free-flowing of talk without being worried they will get sued for saying something. We want to know if there is a bad peace officer,” said Sen Iwamoto (D-Salt Lake City).