Public Safety

KUER Local News stories about public safety.

fox13now.com

The murder trial of Dr. Martin MacNeill in Provo’s 4th District Court is the first ever in the state to be broadcast and streamed live by the media. For proponents of open government, it is another milestone reached by the court’s recent rule change to allow video and audio recordings inside the courtroom.

Unified Police are investigating complaints involving the principal of a school for special needs students in Midvale. Multiple police reports have been filed against Jordan Valley School Principal Mark Donnelly. But an internal investigation by the Canyons School District has already cleared Donnelly of wrongdoing.  

http://rescuesaltlake.org/

The estimated number of people who are homeless in Utah has declined nearly 10 percent since 2012. In addition, homelessness among families with children dropped by 8 percent. The news came from the state’s comprehensive report on homelessness, which was released today, the same day of Utah’s 10th Annual Homeless Summit at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City.

Federal law enforcement officials are now enlisting the public’s help to catch sex offenders. Homeland Security officials say the public can start by downloading Operation Predator to your iPhone. It’s a new application the department has developed to gather tips about perpetrators of child sex abuse.

When a 9-1-1 dispatch center in Salt Lake County gets a call like this, the operator will use one of two existing software programs to locate emergency responders; and based on the location of the incident, call on the responder that’s closest to the scene.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says the problem with this scenario is when dispatchers are divided between two software systems, they’re not communicating. Depending on where the call was routed and the location of the incident, the caller may have to be transferred to another operator.

Nicole Nixon

Friends and family of Sergeant Derek Johnson were joined by law enforcement officers from all over the state and country for his funeral at the Maverik Center today (Friday). Johnson was killed in the line of duty on Sunday. KUER’s Nicole Nixon reports.

Dan Bammes

On Tuesday afternoon, Unified Police Spokesman Justin Hoyal released the identity of the two people allegedly involved in the shooting and death of Draper Police Officer Derek Johnson. They are 35-year-old Timothy Walker and 34-year-old Traci Vaillancourt.

Sergeant Johnson died early Sunday after he was shot in an apparent ambush.  Police say Walker is now considered the prime suspect in the shooting and Vallaincourt is considered a victim. Both remain in critical condition at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

West Valley City officials announced Tuesday; they’ve hired a police chief out of Kentucky to lead the city’s embattled police department.  Lee Russo, former Chief of the Covington Kentucky Police Department will replace retired West Valley City Police Chief Buzz Nielson.

West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle says Chief Russo brings a great deal of wisdom to the West Valley City police department.

Rockport Fire Burns Homes, Forces Evacuations

Aug 13, 2013
Summit County

*Updated at 11:00 a.m. 8/16/13

Summit County officials have removed the evacuation orders for the communities of Bridge Hollow and Promontory. Evacuation orders are still in effect for the communites of Rockport Estates and Rockport Ranches. Officials say those evacuations will remain at least through Monday.

Fire officials released an updated count of the number of homes destroyed, decreasing the original number of 14 to eight. It has also claimed several cars, boats and ATVs near the Rockport State Park. 

Justice for Danielle Willard Facebook Page

After a nine month long investigation Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced today that the officer involved shooting of Danielle Willard was not legally justified.

West Valley City

Latino Community groups say they’re excited about a recent pact crafted between them and the West Valley City Police Department aimed at improving relations.

Bob Nelson

Salt Lake City residents, city leaders and especially public safety officials celebrated the grand opening of the new Public Safety Building on 475 South 300 East Friday. The 125 million dollar facility combines police, fire, 911 dispatch headquarters, and the dedicated Emergency Operations Center. It is also designed to hold up during a magnitude 7.5 earthquake and still be operational. Salt Lake City Council Chair Kyle LaMalfa says it’s a misconception that local government is the connection to the people and businesses of Salt Lake City.

Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

A confrontation last night between Boy Scout Camp leaders and a bear in the Uinta Mountains ended with a dead bear and possible charges being filed against a camp leader. It happened at the Hinckley Scout Ranch along the East Fork of the Bear River near the Utah-Wyoming border.  Jodie Anderson with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says they tried to trap a bear reported in the area earlier in the week. They got a call from the camp that a bear had been shot after camp leaders tried to chase a bear from the top of a table while it was eating something.

The U.S. Attorney’s office for Utah is charging a Provo man with violating federal firearms laws.

Andrea Smardon

There was a grand opening ceremony Wednesday for Salt Lake City’s new Military Entrance Processing Station, otherwise known as Freedom’s Front Door.  The facility is where potential recruits from a 5-state area go to complete their application process for the military, and to take an oath before entering into service.

Brian Grimmett

A state task force is considering expanding special court programs into a new Veteran’s Court. Veteran’s courts across the country offer substance abuse help, mental health treatments and other special programs to offenders who have served in the military. For many vets, it’s a welcome alternative to spending time behind bars. Richard Schwermer is the Utah Problem Solving Courts Coordinator. He says help provided by a proposed state veteran’s court would offer a more long-term solution to offenders who are vets.

Brian Grimmett

Little Cottonwood Canyon is open to traffic again after several rockslides blocked the roads this morning. Utah Department of Transportation work crews began clearing the slides from the roads around 3:30 a.m. The major slides occurred about halfway up the canyon and covered the roads with rocks, mud, and debris. At the worst location, runoff water also caused parts of the shoulder to break away from the road. Still, UDOT spokesperson Adan Carrillo says no significant damage was done to the road.

With a handful of wildfires still burning throughout Utah and Colorado, Governor Gary Herbert joined state fire officials this morning to brief reporters on current efforts to control them. 

Firefighters were able to contain fires in Saratoga Springs and Provo last night before they caused major property damage any injuries.  Now they’re focused on a 60-acre fire near the Green River, three fires west of Blanding on Elk Ridge and another on the southwest side of the La Sal Mountains.

Utah State Forester Dick Buehler says suppression crews are out in force. 

Utah Fire Officials Forecast a Difficult Summer

Jun 11, 2013
Map of 2012 Utah Wildfires
Utah Department of Natural Resources

High temperatures and dry conditions have thrust Utah into what could be a difficult fire season. Crews contained the Flood Canyon Fire in Tooele County on Monday and the National Weather Service issued a “Red Flag Warning” for the St. George area over the weekend.

Jason Curry is a Utah State Fire Information Officer. He says because of late rains and higher snow-pack, this summer probably won’t have as many wildfires as last year, but the risk is still above average.

With two high-profile cases in mind, a Utah Lawmaker is drafting a bill to make it easier for a judge to remove children from the custody of a parent who’s a suspected of murdering the other parent. GOP Senator Todd Weiler says his bill would lower the standard of proof the judge needs to make the call.

When Senator Weiler brought the bill to a Judiciary Interim Committee last month, he had in mind the families of missing West Valley City mom Susan Cox Powell and Salt Lake City mom Uta von Schwedler. Schwedler was found drowned in a bathtub in 2011.

Women who live in Salt Lake City are regularly concerned about their safety while getting around town according to a new report released today by the city’s Human Rights Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Diversity and Human Rights.

The report is called The Status of Women in Salt Lake City. In it are the perspectives of more than 600 women from across the socio-economic spectrum on challenges they face.  Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says a woman’s lens of the world is different from that of a man’s.

Andrea Smardon

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have served in the US Armed Forces, but not everyone who wants to serve can. Some undocumented immigrants in Utah wish they had the opportunity to enlist in the military, and they’re hoping Congress can help. 

Angelica Rodriguez came to Utah just before her sixth birthday from the Mexican state of Veracruz. By the time she was a teenager, her dream was to serve in the US armed forces. She says she wanted to help and protect people, especially during natural disasters.

Pool: Leah Hogsten, The Salt Lake Tribune

Family members say they are shattered by the suicide of Matthew David Stewart, the 39-year-old Ogden man accused of shooting and killing a police officer and injuring five others during a January 2012 drug raid. Stewart was found hanging in his jail cell early this morning.

Attorneys for a man who was shot and killed by a police officer last fall have filed a lawsuit against the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department for what they claim to be unlawful and unconstitutional use of deadly force.

West Valley City Police are closing the investigation into Susan Cox Powell’s disappearance, but authorities say they will continue to pursue any credible leads should they arise. Susan Powell was last seen at her West Valley City home in December 2009. 

U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah filed a complaint against the state today and obtained a temporary restraining order to stop a law from going into effect tomorrow. They say the new law violates a clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Federal officials are preparing for what is expected to be a challenging fire season this year, specifically in the west. The forecast comes amid diminished federal firefighting dollars as a result of sequestration. 

Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the number of fires that have already burned across the U.S. this year are down from last year by about 5,000. But Vilsack warns not to be lulled into a false sense of security. He says droughts continue to plague much of the country and federal budgets are strained.

File: National Law Enforcement Fund

Fallen police Officer Jared Francom’s name is to be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on Wednesday in Washington, DC. Francom was killed as the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force attempted to serve a warrant. Five other officers were injured in a gun battle that ensued. Francom’s family as well as Weber County Attorney Dee Smith is in Washington for the ceremonies. Smith says people should not forget the sacrifices these officers make every day for their community.

Bob Nelson

The University of Utah Academic Senate is reviewing proposed increases in penalties for skateboarders and bicyclists who are not following safety regulations on campus. The University’s Police Chief Scott Folsom says after a professor was injured by speeding skateboarders, concerns arose for the safety of the University community. He says the draft being considered allows first offenders to be warned.

“If they’re caught behaving inappropriately again that there’s a more robust penalty if you will to help discourage continuing non-compliance with the policy,” says Folsom.

Andrea Smardon

A Utah teen accused of punching a soccer referee who later died was charged Wednesday with homicide by assault. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he will seek to try the teen as an adult in the death of 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo. In the meantime, the community is mourning the loss of Portillo at a memorial service and viewing in Salt Lake City. 

Pages