Public Safety

KUER Local News stories about public safety.

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.

BYU

A group of researchers at Brigham Young University have developed an advanced traffic safety model that’s helping UDOT make Utah roads safer.

Grant Schultz is an associate professor of civil engineering at BYU. He was on the team of researchers that has spent the last 5 years developing the model. He says the tool will help the Utah Department of Transportation save lives.

Bob Nelson

Rocky Mountain Power and various rescue crews in the Salt Lake Valley are running three coordinated rescue exercises this week. Monday’s exercise was the first in the series with a mock victim trapped below an industrial power supply box in a Salt Lake City industrial park.

Utah Department of Corrections

A federal marshal shot and killed a man on trial at the new federal courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City after he rushed the witness stand.Siale Angilau, 25, was on trial for violating federal RICO laws. Those are laws that deal with organized crime and corruption. The charges stem from Angilau’s involvement with the Tongan Crip gang.

Perry Caldwell was inside the courtroom when Angilau attacked the witness. He says the witness was testifying about how the Tongan Crip gang works when it happened.

Bob Nelson

The Salt Lake County Emergency Preparedness Expo is going on until 8 this evening at the South Towne Expo Center. Jeff Graviet is the Emergency Services Director for Salt Lake County. He says it is important that at least once a year residents assess how prepared they for unforeseen disasters.

Great Utah ShakeOut at the U

Apr 17, 2014
Andrea Smardon

  Schools, government agencies and businesses across the Wasatch Front took part in the Great Utah ShakeOut on Thursday.  The earthquake drill got a lot of people out of their offices and into the sunshine at the University of Utah.

Several hundred people assembled in a parking lot near the HPER P.E. building on the U of U campus after receiving a text message at 10:15.  They were told at first to drop, cover and hold on as if a real earthquake was happening and then to evacuate the buildings where they work.

On the heels of a heated conversation with the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday, Police Chief Chris Burbank maintains the department’s backlog of unprocessed rape kits is not an issue of cost or bureaucracy—but necessity.  Today he announced steps to make the process more transparent. 

Dan Bammes

  Fewer people are signed up for the Great Utah ShakeOut earthquake drill this year, but state officials are still hoping to get the message out about emergency preparedness. About 827,000 people are signed up through their businesses and schools to participate in the Great Utah ShakeOut Thursday morning at 10:15.  Last year, it was more than 900,000.

The Salt Lake City Police Department has hundreds of unprocessed rape kits collecting dust on a shelf. Now the Salt Lake City council is looking into how to best manage the backlog of evidence.

Data from the Salt Lake City Police Department show 625 kits that contain physical evidence of a sexual assault are still in custody and have not been sent to the state lab for DNA testing.

Brian Grimmett

The Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that aims to prevent another controversy like the one surrounding the Stericycle medical waste incinerator from happening again in the future.

Brian Grimmett

A bill that aims to protect children from sexual abuse through education got unanimous support on the House floor today despite some initial concerns.

Flickr Creative Commons

It’s now up to Governor Gary Herbert now to decide if more of Utah highways should be considered for 80 mile per hour speed limits.

Utah Department of Transportation

    

The Utah House has passed a bill that could mean higher speed limits on more of Utah’s interstate highways.

Close to 400 miles of Utah’s highways already allow drivers to go 80 mph. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, says more areas of interstate freeway should be considered for higher speeds. His bill would allow the Utah Department of Transportation to study divided highways where it might make sense to let drivers go faster. He says the Utah Division of Air Quality told him that faster driving does not lead to more pollution.

Brian Grimmett

A bill aimed at removing a police officer’s liability for the injury or death of a fleeing suspect passed out of the Utah House today.

Whittney Evans

Utah House Majority Leader Brad Dee announced today he is crafting legislation that he hopes will get every jurisdiction in Utah on a single 9-1-1 emergency response system. The Ogden Republican was joined by Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams who’s been trying to do the same thing at the county level.

Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth says it’s time to change the 9-1-1 system in the Salt Lake Valley.  

“I don’t feel safe frankly, totally safe with the dispatch system, the way it’s set up now,” Applegarth says.

Brian Grimmett

UPDATE: Since the broadcast of this story, Stericycle has confirmed in a written statement to KUER that it is seriously considering the option of moving, and that the company has taken steps to secure property in a remote area of Tooele County. The company's Vice President for Legal and Regulatory Affairs Selin Hoboy says the details are still being finalized.  

West Valley City’s new police chief spoke candidly with members of the community Thursday night about the future of the long-embattled agency. It was the first in a series of monthly community meetings Chief Lee Russo says he plans to hold. 

Lori Bailey is part of the Solomon Farms Neighborhood watch in West Valley City. She told Russo, she’s not getting a timely response from the police when she report crimes like drug deals and graffiti. Russo took Bailey’s information assuring her he’d follow up. Bailey says she’ll come to every community meeting from now on.  

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

The consultant hired by the Prison Relocation and Development Authority, or PRADA, held an informal meeting at the State Capitol Thursday.  At the event, people had a chance to voice their opinions on their master plan for moving the State prison in Draper.

Deborah Reithmuller is the founder of the Utah Prison Support Group. She was one of the few people that showed up to weigh in on why she thinks the State prison should not be moved.

File: WRCNU Facebook page.

State wildlife officials are warning everyone to be cautious if they come across another sick eagle.  16 bald eagles have died in recent weeks from a mysterious illness.  Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease coordinator with the Division of Wildlife Resources, says they thought it might be lead poisoning at first, but now they know that’s not the problem.

McFarlane says it’s good that residents want to help these sick eagles when they find them, but dealing with the birds is best left to the professionals.

Andrea Smardon

The West Valley City Police Department has announced the results of an audit of its former sex crimes unit. The audit focused on an allegation that a large number of cases last year were left uninvestigated, and that a member of the unit had inappropriately closed cases without following protocol.

http://jobs.utah.gov/ucard/

The personal information of thousands of Utah residents has been compromised.  Those who use the UCard to collect benefits from the Department of Workforce Services are affected by the data breach, DWS officials announced today.  JP Morgan Chase, the company tasked with delivering benefits through the digital payment card discovered a network breach that reportedly began in July and was contained in September.

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