Public Safety

KUER Local News stories about public safety.

Whittney Evans

With all eyes on the death of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri and two recent officer involved shootings in Salt Lake City, Police Chief Chris Burbank opened his doors to members of the media today to discuss appropriate vs. inappropriate force.

Whittney Evans

Police are still searching for the suspect involved in a Salt Lake City night club shooting over the weekend. A crowd of people were caught in a hail of gunfire on Saturday at Inferno Cantina, a Mexican restaurant and dance club, located at 122 West Pierpont Avenue in Salt Lake City.  Six people suffered non-life threatening injuries as a result of the shooting. Police Detective Greg Wilking says when the suspect fled the bar, an armed security guard from inside the club followed and fired at least one round, uncertain if the bullet hit anyone.

The personal information of patients at a Tooele hospital has been exposed in a cyberattack. Administrators at Community Health Systems, which operates Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele, say the attack took information from its computer network earlier this year.

The Tennessee company says that no medical or credit card records were taken in the attack, which may have happened in April and June. But the company said the attack did bypass its security systems to take patient names, addresses, birthdates, phone and Social Security numbers.

File: Salt Lake County Bicycle Commuter Network

Salt Lake County officials have announced a new grant program available to area cities to improve the commuter bicycle experience.

County Mayor Ben McAdams says the plan is to use a small portion of the $40-million plus transportation budget to double the number of bicycle commuters in a relatively short period of time.

Brian Grimmett

Several families are still have no access to their homes because of a landslide that occurred in North Salt Lake on Tuesday. As workers begin to clean up and secure the slide area, some are beginning to ask who, if anyone, is to blame. 

North Salt Lake city officials say they began seeing small signs of a movement on the hill as early as last fall. But they say it wasn’t until early July that they began seeing enough movement to raise concern. North Salt Lake mayor Len Arave says while they were working on a solution, nobody realized how urgent the situation was.

Brian Grimmett

  A landslide in North Salt Lake has destroyed one home and displaced many others. The hillside above the neighborhood on Parkway Drive gave way at about 6:30 Tuesday morning.

“I heard a loud thunder sound, actually a couple of them, and ran to my front window and looked out and there were police in the street," says Melissa Plowman. "And I ran to the back of my house and looked up and basically saw a crater.”

Brett Neilson via Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank announced his department has been selected to undergo a federal review of how it handles sexual assault cases.

The Police Detective Research Forum and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will conduct the review. Salt Lake City is one of four police departments nationwide to be selected. Police Detective Greg Wilking says it’s expected to take about a year to complete but there is no definitive deadline.

Review Board Clears Officer in Dog Shooting

Aug 1, 2014
Sean Kendall/Facebook

  A civilian review board has exonerated a Salt Lake City police officer after he shot a dog last month.

The report from the Salt Lake City Police Civilian Review Board looked at whether Detective Brett Olsen used excessive force when he shot and killed a dog named Geist.  Olsen was searching for a missing child when he entered the back yard of Sean Kendall’s home in Sugar House.

Brian Grimmett

University of Utah law professor and former U.S. District Court Judge Paul Cassell has joined the defense team for the former West Valley City Police detective who shot and killed Danielle Willard.

Whittney Evans

The Salt Lake City Police Department began putting extra attention on Pioneer Park this month with the creation of a special bureau. Law Enforcement officials say that effort combined with new family-friendly activities will make the park and the neighborhood safer.

If you’ve spent any time around Pioneer Park lately, whether it be for the downtown farmer’s market or the Twilight Concert Series, you may have noticed some athletic, enthusiastic people flying high above you.

Wikimedia commons

Animal doctors at a laboratory in Logan should know by the end of the week how ten horses found in a Magna field over the weekend died. The answer could lead to criminal charges for the animal’s owner.

On Friday afternoon Salk Lake County Animal Services and the Unified Police Department responded to reports that several horses were found dead in a field near 3500 south and 9200 west in Magna. One horse was still alive but in poor condition.

Brian Grimmett

Draper City and the Unified Fire Authority are working hand in hand to help mitigate fire danger on Traverse Mountain.

The area where firefighters are thinning out the underbrush is located on a steep hill leading right up into homes in the SunCrest neighborhood. Unified Fire Authority Captain Riley Pilgrim says they’re hoping to help reduce the fire risk of one of the most dangerous spots in the state.

Gun Deaths Exceed Highway Deaths in Utah

Jul 17, 2014
Violence Policy Center

Utah is one of 14 states where the number of gun-related deaths is now higher than the number of highway fatalities. 

Highway fatalities in Utah – and across the country – have dropped dramatically in the past decade, thanks in part to safer cars and better drunk driving enforcement. For Utah, a report from the Violence Policy Center says there were 277 motor vehicle deaths in 2011, compared to 308 deaths from guns.  That includes accidents, homicides and suicides.

Dan Bammes

  A huge pile of wood chips on the Diamond Tree Experts site in South Salt Lake caught fire yesterday.  It was the second fire there in a month, and city officials say they’re taking steps to prevent another fire from occurring in the future.

Smoke from the burning mulch pile at about 3600 South was thick enough to shut down I-15 temporarily.  Firefighters worked through the night to put out the flames.  They think it was started by spontaneous combustion in the decomposing mulch, though the exact cause is under investigation.

Nicole Nixon

A man accused of shooting and killing a Draper City police officer last September will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Thirty-four-year-old Timothy Troy Walker was convicted Tuesday morning in 3rd District court with aggravated murder in the death of 32-year-old police Sergeant Derek Johnson.

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake County’s Metro Gang Unit has captured three of the county’s most-wanted gangsters in the past month. Officials say it’s mostly a coincidence that they’ve nabbed the fugitives in such a short period of time, but its evidence that the unit’s relationship with the public is crucial to these arrests. 

Ikluft via wikimedia commons

Today, many residents along the Wasatch Front will be lighting fuses and gazing up at the sky. July 1st is the first day to legally ignite fireworks across the state. 

State-approved fireworks can be discharged from July 1st through July 7th and again on July 21st through July 27th between 11 am and 11 pm. Hours are extended to midnight on Independence Day and Pioneer Day.

This year, the state legislature gave authority to the Salt Lake County Council to place fireworks restrictions on unincorporated areas of the county instead of the state forester.

The Salt Lake City Police Department is investigating the actions of a police officer who shot and killed a dog while searching for a missing child in Sugar House. Meanwhile, Police Chief Chris Burbank says the vitriol aimed at his officers as a result of the incident has gone too far.

Earlier this month, Officer Brett Olsen entered Sean Kendall’s backyard through an unlocked gate while searching for a missing child. Saying he felt threatened, Olsen shot dead Kendall’s 2-year-old Weimaraner named Geist.

Whittney Evans

A former West Valley City police officer who shot and killed 21-year-old Danielle Willard in a 2012 drug bust is facing criminal charges. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office filed the charges this morning in 3rd District Court.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has charged former West Valley City narcotics detective Shaun Cowley with 2nd degree manslaughter. Gill opted not to file charges against detective Kevin Salmon who also fired his weapon at the scene. Cowley fired the first and fatal shot.  

shahram sharif via Wikimedia Commons

Utah lawmakers were at the state capitol today discussing how to deal with thousands of untested rape in the state. They heard from law enforcement, victim advocates and the state crime lab. But there’s still no consensus on whether all the kits actually need to be tested.

When it comes to gang activity, most people picture cities like Los Angeles and Newark. But gangs are a problem in unexpected places, too — like Salt Lake City, where law enforcement officials are using federal racketeering charges to try to bring them down.

Bryan William Jones | http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/

A Utah legislator plans to run a bill that would bring back the firing squad as an option for Utah inmates sentenced to death. Since 2004 Utah inmates sentenced to death have had only one option for their execution: death by lethal injection. But Republican Representative Paul Ray says that could soon pose an issue for the state as it is becoming harder to obtain the specific drugs needed to create the injection and any new formula could be challenged in court.

The West Valley City Civil Service Commission has overturned the demotion of Lt. John Coyle, the former head of the now disbanded Neighborhood Narcotics Unit.

Brian Grimmett

Several new laws go into effect today, including one that could change people’s driving habits. Utah Highway Patrol Superintendent Danny Fuhr explains the new cell phone law this way.

“In order for us to pull someone over we’re going to see their phone in their hand," Fuhr says. "We’re going to see their attention drawn towards that phone and some type of manipulation of that phone, meaning they’re pushing multiple characters into that phone.”

Brian Grimmett

Officials from the state legislature, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Highway Patrol joined bicycle advocates to help kick off the annual Road Respect tour.

Salt Lake County

A jailed man accused of sexually abusing teenage immigrant boys and forcing them to deal drugs is dead. The Salt Lake County Sheriff says that authorities found 42-year-old Victor Manuel Rax hanging in his cell Monday night, and they believe he committed suicide.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

Prosecutors filed six first-degree murder charges Monday against a Utah woman accused of killing six of her own newborn babies. If convicted, 39-year-old Megan Huntsman of Pleasant Grove would not face the death penalty, but could spend the rest of her life in prison.

According to Pleasant Grove police, Megan Huntsman admitted to suffocating or strangling six of her babies and hiding their bodies in boxes in her garage. Deputy Utah County Attorney Jared Perkins on the prosecution team says they think they know her motive, but are not releasing that information yet.

The Salt Lake City Police Department is working with local businesses and homeowners to stamp out crime in and around Pioneer Park…with video cameras.

The SafeCam program encourages businesses and residents to share their security camera footage with police who can then view the camera footage in real time by tapping into their IP addresses. Mike Brown is Deputy Police Chief at the Salt Lake City Police Department. He says businesses and developers are looking to clean up the neighborhood along Pioneer Park which is a well-known spot for drug deals.

A woman in St George has been charged with felony child endangerment for using methamphetamine while pregnant.  The baby was delivered by emergency C-section last week due to medical problems. According to charges filed Monday, the 24-year-old mother admitted to medical staff and police that she is addicted to meth and used it while pregnant. She was booked in a Washington County facility on 10,000 dollars bail. But state officials and health experts say the law was never intended to prosecute pregnant women.

Provo City

Provo city officials are asking for the community’s help in finding a serial arsonist that has set 10 fires in the last month.Each of the 10 fires has been ignited in or around an abandoned house or structure. The first fire too place on March 13 and the latest fire happened early Tuesday morning.

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