Public Safety

KUER Local News stories about public safety.

A funeral was held last night for the Ricardo Portillo, the 46-year-old soccer referee who died after allegedly being punched in the head by a 17-year-old goalie. Friends and family attended the service dressed in white t-shirts and soccer jerseys to honor Portillo. 

Hundreds trickled into the sanctuary at Our Lady of Guadalupe hoping to pay their respects to Ricardo Portillo. Some paced the halls silently. Some kneeled to pray. Others spoke softly in Spanish as music played.

The 17-year-old soccer goalie who allegedly punched and killed a referee during a game in Utah last month faces a charge of "homicide by assault" and may be tried as an adult.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill sought the charge in a petition filed with a juvenile court Wednesday. Gill is also seeking to have the unidentified suspect certified as an adult.

Saturday was an emotional day for hundreds of people who turned out for the annual Salt Lake City Marathon. But the mood was not one of fear or sadness despite last week’s tragic Boston Marathon bombing. Runners and spectators were in high spirits, paying tribute to those affected by Monday’s blast by wearing bracelets that read “Run Now” and race shirts that read “Running for Boston” on the front and “Keep Running” on the back. 

Increased Security at SLC Marathon

Apr 19, 2013
Dan Bammes

  Runners and spectators will see a lot more security around the Salt Lake City Marathon on Saturday.  After the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, marathon planners developed some new security strategies.  Deputy Salt Lake City Police Chief Terry Fritz says the Utah Highway Patrol, the Utah National Guard and other agencies have brought in additional resources for the race.

Brian Grimmett

At 10:15 this morning tens of thousands of people participated in what is known as the great Utah ShakeOut: a statewide earthquake drill. Here on the University of Utah campus the drill started with a text message from the University Campus Alert system directing us to drop, cover, and hold on. Not long after that another text message alert arrived directing us to evacuate the building and head to our designated assembly point in a nearby parking lot.

Rennly Williams

After the explosions in Boston Monday, one Salt Lake City mother was relieved to find out that her daughter was safe at the Boston Plaza Hotel. But the family is still having trouble getting past the incident.

Rennly Williams says she didn’t see or hear the explosion at the finish line. Her boyfriend Tom Hickenlooper had finished the race 10 minutes before – faster than he expected because of a knee injury. Just a little slower, and he and Williams might have been there for the blast. 

ShakeOut in West Valley

Apr 16, 2013
www.ShakeOut.org

  Communities across Utah are planning for another statewide earthquake drill Wednesday morning – and each one has its own emergency planning issues to deal with. 

West Valley City, for example,  is miles from the Wasatch Fault, but it has unique vulnerabilities.  There are a couple of faults running under the city, and Fire Marshal Bob Fitzgerald says the lake bed soils over most of West Valley could liquefy in a strong earthquake

Brian Grimmett

In the aftermath of the explosions at the Boston Marathon today the Salt Lake City Police Department is clarifying their security plans for this weekend’s Salt Lake City Marathon.

The Salt Lake City Police Department says the Salt Lake City Marathon will proceed as planed this Saturday. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank says they don’t anticipate a need to increase the security presence that has already been planned either.

Bob Nelson

"...again that’s one of the criteria that we have. Criminal activity, hanging with other known gangsters…boom, there you go, he’s a gangster," explains Detective Jamie Cardenas, referring to a Millcreek area rapper who continually denies being a gangster when being questioned by law enforcment. About 300 law enforcement professionals are attending Gangs 101 by Detectives Jaime Cardenas and Zach Emmerick with the Metro Gang Unit of Midvale and Unified Police Department respectively.

Courtesy of the Utah Attorney General's Office

Utah Attorney General John Swallow is encouraging Congress to enact immigration reform.  Swallow is part of a bipartisan group of 35 Attorney Generals who sent a letter to federal leaders calling for reform that improves the immigration system, keeps communities safe and protects borders. 

Swallow says drug crime, identity theft issues, and gangs tied to illegal immigration are threatening Utah’s safety and economy.

Andrea Smardon

A Utah County woman with five young children may be deported to Mexico next week. But her family and community advocates are trying to stop that from happening. They met with representatives from Utah's congressional delegation Wednesday, pleading for help and for immigration reform. 

Brenda Guzman-Sandoval was arrested by Utah County Police on March 20th at her home in Orem.  Her 17-year-old brother Moices Guzman was there.

File: Utah Department of Transportation

The Utah Department of Transportation has been hit by the largest single theft of copper cable in its history. UDOT’s John Gleason says they’re surprised no one noticed thieves at work right along I-15 in North Salt Lake last week.

“They basically stripped out 35-thousand feet of copper wiring, you know that stretches, says Gleason, it spans about the length of a mile, eleven separate tall light poles.”

Gleason says replacing the cables will cost between 50 and 60 thousand dollars so taxpayers are the biggest victims in these thefts.

Utah Transit Authority is set for the grand opening of the Salt Lake Regional Airport TRAX line next month, but before riders can climb aboard law enforcement and emergency management personnel are performing some exercises to prepare for a crisis situation.

Brian Grimmett

A bill that would remove the need to get a concealed carry permit for gun owners over the age of 21 is one vote away from being sent to the Governor’s desk. HB76 received preliminary approval in the Utah Senate today. 

The number of young people in Utah who are going to jail is declining according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s National Kid’s Count Project.  The report shows the decline is about on pace with the majority of the United States. But the progress could be cut short because of budget cuts.

Andrea Smardon

Arguments over Utah’s immigration enforcement law were heard in US District Court Friday.  It was the first hearing on the law in about a year.  Judge Clark Waddoups was waiting to rule on the constitutionality of HB 497 until after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Arizona’s enforcement-only law. 

Cecillia Wang is Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project, and a lawyer in the case against HB 497.  Standing outside the US District Court in Salt Lake City after the hearing, Wang said the tide is turning in their favor. 

More than a dozen non-profit groups working to end violence against women and girls gathered at the state capitol this morning to bring focus to a harrowing United Nation's statistic; 1 in 3 women in the world will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. The gathering was part of the One Billion Rising anti-violence movement led by Eve Ensler, Author of the Vagina Monologues. 

Three Dead in Midvale Shooting

Feb 12, 2013
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office

  Unified Police officers found three people dead this morning at a home in Midvale.  Lieutenant Justin Hoyal says they’d been shot.  One woman who survived was taken to a hospital in critical condition.  Hoyal says they weren’t sure initially whether there was a danger to the neighborhood.

“Early on in this situation, before we had any information," Hoyal tells KUER, "we didn’t know if the suspect was out on foot in the area, we put our local schools on lockdown and we sent officers over there to help with security.”

After considerable debate Monday, the state House of Representatives approved legislation making it illegal for Utah drivers to smoke in their cars if they have a child as a passenger. The debate centered not around the effects of second hand smoke, but on the role of government in our lives.

The bill would make it a secondary offense to smoke while driving with someone under 16 years old. Democratic sponsor Patrice Arent argued that it’s lawmakers’ responsibility to protect children from harm.  

UDOT

The speed limit on several sections of Utah’s interstate highways could soon be increased to 80 miles per hour.

Bob Nelson

There was a somber moment of silence as Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Aaron Beesley and his family were honored in both chambers of the Utah Legislature Wednesday. Beesley died while on a search and rescue mission in Salt Lake County in June last year. Senator Pete Knudsen from District 17 spoke as a large group of the Beesley family stood in the center of the Senate floor.

“In recognition of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Trooper Aaron Beesley, the Utah Legislature hereby honors Trooper Beesley and his surviving family for their service to the State of Utah,”said Knudsen.

Tonia Torrence

The Salt Lake City Council is reconsidering an ordinance which penalizes residents if they fail to clear snow and ice off their sidewalks.  The Council discussed the issue at their meeting Tuesday after several council members received warnings that their own walkways were not sufficiently clear. 

Tonia Torrence came back from a trip in early January to find a citation in her mailbox.  She had been fined 50 dollars for not clearing her sidewalk of snow and ice.

In the future, Utahns may no longer need a permit to carry a concealed weapon.   Republican Representative John Mathis of Vernal has filed legislation that would amend Utah’s gun laws, essentially eliminating the need for a concealed weapons permit. 

Spring City Corporation

Officials in Spring City, Utah are considering an ordinance that would encourage every homeowner to own a gun.

Spring City Councilman Neil Sorensen came up with the original idea that would have made owning a gun mandatory. But after discussion the city council quickly decided doing so would be too complicated, so they changed the language of the ordinance. Sorensen says he hopes the ordinance will make criminals think twice before attempting a home invasion.

Report Details Domestic Violence Deaths in 2012

Jan 2, 2013

The Utah Domestic Violence Council unveiled today  its annual report detailing this past year’s domestic violence related deaths in Utah. Organizers say its purpose is to remember the victims and garner support to stop the violence.

chirsstewartforcongress.com

In response to almost 200 teachers participating in a free concealed carry course offered on Thursday, Republican Congressman-elect Christ Stewart says he’s for the idea, as long as the individual and school district are on board.

Stewart says when he gets to congress he’s going to do what he can to protect 2nd amendment rights. And while he doesn’t think all teachers should have to carry a gun, he says it’s not necessarily a bad idea.

Utah's I-80: Speed Kills

Dec 19, 2012
Wikimedia Commons

Even as highway fatalities have been going down across Utah, they've been going up on Interstate 80 through Utah's West Desert from Lakepoint to Wendover. A big reason for that is excessive speed. Dwayne Baird with the Utah Department of Public Safety says troopers have written more than 400 citations this year for vehicles going 100 miles an hour or more. In a few cases, drivers have been caught doing 150.

Few Gun Transactions Denied for Mental Illness

Dec 19, 2012
Wikimedia Commons

Utah law as well as federal law requires a background check to buy any kind of firearm, and the state can deny a purchase based on a person's history of mental illness. But that happens only rarely. Dwayne Baird with the Utah Department of Public Safety says someone who's been found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity would be ineligible, or others whose history of violence has been certified by a district court.

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