LOGAN — Legislators aren’t the only ones working long days in Salt Lake City right now. Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen has been meeting with state senators and representatives the last two weeks, as he looks at how bills will impact deputies and officers throughout the state.
Jensen, who is a member of the Law Enforcement Legislative Committee, said they are watching 40-to-50 of the more than 1300 bills being discussed this year. He is also working with local legislators on improving training and programs for inmates.
“I think the biggest one right now for the jails is HB-157, and that is the justice reinvestment amendments,” explained Jensen. “That deals with cognitive life skills and training for state inmates in the jails. It deals with providing GED for inmates so they can graduate with their GED and have that when they get out of jail. There is also training on drug addiction, personal finance and how to interview for a job.”
He and legislative sponsor Val Potter are also considering skilled labor training, so inmates could receive certifications in construction, plumbing or wielding. The goal is to hopefully prevent criminals from reoffending and being sentenced back to jail.
Jensen said he is also concerned about HB-83 that would limit law enforcement from using forcible entry while conducting an arrest warrant, when they believe the suspect has a gun.
“What they want to do is take out the firearms [requirement] when we apply for a warrant, and say you can’t use firearms as your cause to do a no-knock or a night-time warrant. Well, that is a big officer safety issue for us.”
The bill is currently stalled. It’s unknown whether it will move out of committee.
Another bill, HB-125, would make it a class B misdemeanor if someone fails to stop and provide assistance in the event of a crime or emergency. Jensen said the bill has good intentions but is too vague.
“The questions are: What is the emergency? How do you know that it’s an emergency? What truly is your duty? Is it just to call 911 and that fulfills the requirements of the law. Or do you actually have to stop and give CPR to somebody? Do you have to intervene in a fight or quarrel between [people]? So, if they don’t clean that one up a little bit, it is going to cause some agony.”
Jensen said the last thing deputies want is for a citizen to get in the middle of a crime being committed and get injured.