Legislators Discuss Use of Force Training for Utah Police Officers

Jul 15, 2015

Legislators discussed training methods for handling use of force situations Wednesday with several leaders of Utah’s law enforcement agencies.

In the wake of several high profile use of force incidents in Utah and across the country, the law enforcement and criminal justice interim committee invited the director of Utah’s Peace Officer Standards and Training program to discuss current policies and practices. POST Director Scott Stephenson says for years they’ve trained officers on how to deal with conflicts and mental illness, and in the past year they’ve added several hours of what they call crisis intervention training.

“And we’re training officers and teaching them to be prepared for that challenge of authority," he says. "And be sure that you’re not the one abusing it. Whether it’s through your tone, and the way you carry yourself, or whether you’re violating somebody’s rights. We cannot have that, because one bad act affects all of us.”

Col. Daniel Fuhr of the Utah Highway Patrol also testified during the meeting. He says they’re trying to get more diverse in an effort to gain trust with the communities they serve, but that they’re finding that task difficult.

“It is so hard to get folks to come into law enforcement right now in general," he says. "We had 89 people put in for 12 positions in the Highway Patrol. We had more people put in for the secretaries position at headquarters than we did for state trooper.”

New officers currently have to complete 586 hours of training before becoming certified. Officers are also required to do at least 40 hours of in-service training each year, but Fuhyr says most officers do a lot more.