When is Routine Really Routine in the Line of Duty?

Two summers ago a 16-year veteran police officer in Lehi, Utah was shot by a female motorist during a traffic stop. The woman who fired the weapon was a Washington State resident who was being pulled over for possibly driving under the influence.

This past winter an officer with the Millard County Sheriff’s Office was tragically shot and killed during a stop involving two men who were possibly fleeing a scene in a stolen vehicle.

These are the realities our police officers live with every day. The element of the unknown is always present and real possibilities of altercation are never far from their minds. The job requires quick, split-second reflexes and yet when the response is not the absolute perfect reaction, somehow we forget they’re like the rest of us – humans, mere mortals.

The recent coverage of Provo Police officers in two cases is a reminder to us that we can and will improve.

In one case, an officer was allegedly involved in illegal conduct that offends all of us. It is important to know that within minutes of this incident being reported an internal investigation was launched and a third party agency was brought in to investigate. This investigation quickly led to the termination of the officer.

In another recently covered case, two officers were guilty of very poor judgment. Their attempt at humor backfired and caused unnecessary stress on a bystander. Although only recently reported, this took place months ago and was dealt with appropriately when it occurred. I have personally investigated the situation and am confident they have suffered for their actions far in excess of their error.

Before we judge the officers, I ask all of us to remember that they were called to the scene of a potential bank robbery. They saw a parked car at the scene and approached the vehicle not knowing if they would be asked to confront a guiltless student or a criminal armed and desperate enough to fire at them. The officers had only a few seconds to make that judgment call and adjust from one extreme to another. In this case an error was made. Humor is never a substitute for professionalism.

Not reported were the thousands of times they have handled similar circumstances correctly. This includes the occasion one of the same officers approached an unknown car in the dark and was called upon to do something he’d never done before – deliver a baby on the freeway off ramp.

As a city, we are committed to being better, focusing harder, and measuring our responses with more precision. We want to assure the public that we recognize when we are imperfect and that we are taking the necessary steps to correct any inappropriate behavior.

I encourage residents to please be careful drawing conclusion from a few negative stories that show up in the media. Instead look at all the admirable things our officers do daily. Our streets are safe largely due to their diligence.

On the same day I learned about the attempt at humor, I was informed that another officer responded to a vehicle burglary. With no apparent evidence, he was able to link together a series of facts that led to an arrest for vehicle burglary, theft, unlawful acquisition of a credit card, credit card fraud, possession of another person’s ID, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The arrest took place within hours of the incident. This example more accurately represents the high quality work that is typical of our police department.

I’m confident in the officers that protect us and help make Provo the amazing city it is to live in, recreate in, and raise a family. None of us is perfect but we will use this as another chance to learn how to do things just a little better.

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A Provo Secret – The Provo Canyon Look Out

Thanks to David Grow and a book called “The History of Provo” by J. Marinus Jenson I learned that just across the canyon and a little west of Bridal Veil Falls is a little known “Guard Quarters” that was established to protect Utah Valley from a feared advance by the United States Army.

“It was also deemed necessary to keep a lookout in Provo Canyon for the approaching army, and a detail of ten men was assigned to duty there.  They established Guard Quarters….Here they built a circular breast works of rocks, their ruins off which care still to be seen.”  The History of Provo, by J. Marinus Jenson, pg 139.

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One More Great New Place to Eat in Provo

I’ll always brag that I was one of the first customers at Munchies.  
If you like BBQ, you’re going to like this place.  
Lee and Tina have poured their souls into Munchies hoping to make it a Provo favorite. 
100 South 200 West
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One Awesome Police Story

Congratulations to Officer Roy Edwards 
Officer Edwards responded on the report of a vehicle burglary at our hospital. The victim had parked her car in the underground parking.  When she returned to her car she noticed that a prescription, driver’s license, social security card and numerous credit cards had been taken from her vehicle.

Officer Edwards reviewed the hospital’s security tape and was able to see a new black Ford Mustang, with new vehicle information sticker in the window and a local dealer’s logo on the license plate, pull up to the victim’s car.  An individual then got out of the passenger side of the Mustang and entered the victim’s vehicle.

Officer Edwards went to the local dealer where he located the black Mustang.  The sales associate stated that it had only been test driven one time that day and that the test drive was during the same time as the vehicle burglary at the hospital.  The dealer provided Officer Edwards with a copy of the driver’s license of the individual that test drove the black Mustang and stated the same individual was currently test driving a second Mustang.

Officer Edwards waited for the suspect’s return and made contact with him.    He was able to get the suspect to confess to the theft and the unlawful use of the victim’s credit cards.  Employees at the dealership also witnessed the suspect throw something in the trash can immediately upon seeing Officer Edwards approaching.  Officer Edwards located these items and determined that they were both new and used syringes for heroin use.  The suspect was booked into the Utah County Jail for the following:  Vehicle Burglary, theft, unlawful acquisition of a credit card x3, credit card fraud x5, possession of another person’s ID, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

I don’t know about you but I love this story.  Our City and Police Department are full of employees who not only work hard but are creative and resourceful to make Provo a better place.  My experience is that this is not only typical of our Police Department but all our employees.

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Rocky Mountain University

Did you know that Provo is home to Rocky Mountain University
On Saturday, August 7, Rocky Mountain University graduated over 80 individuals
with one of the following degrees:
Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Doctor of Nursing Practice
Doctor of Science
Doctor of Philosophy
What’s even more interesting is that all but two of those graduates are from out of state.  It is estimated that the economic impact of Rocky Mountain University is over $3,000,000 annually.  All of it in Provo.
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How Do We Get Our Students and Young Adults More Involved in Provo?

In response to a desire to better understand and respond to our student and young adult population we have created “The Students of Higher Education and Young Adult Advisory Board.”   Its purposes include:

  • To review, discuss and forward recommendations on issues, concerns, and initiatives of the students of higher educational institutions and other young adults in the Provo community.
  • Issues, concerns, and initiatives, may relate to parking, transportation, transit, off-campus housing, recreational and leisure interests, student service opportunities, reaching out with new media to young adult populations and encouraging civic engagement among young adult age groups.
Membership of the Advisory Board consists of 9 young adults.
  • Members must be between 18 and 30 years of age
  • They must live within the city limits of Provo for their entire term
  • At least 5 members of the board must be students in the higher education system
  • One student member is nominated by the president of the BYU Student Association
  • One student member is nominated by the president of the UVU Student Association
  • The remaining four members may or may not be students
  • Members will serve 2 year terms, except for the student association representatives who will serve one year terms; initial terms will be staggered so not all terms will expire at once
  • Members will be appointed by the Mayor, but are subject to the advise and consent of the Municipal Council
  • A representative of the Mayor and a member of the Municipal Council will serve as non-voting members of the Advisory Board
The Board may also create subcommittees consisting of board members and others.
Residents who wish to serve on this Advisory Board should be committed to serve a full term, be willing to attend a monthly meeting during the school year, and will serve without compensation.

Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

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Thinking Aloud About Civility

“Take any group of human beings…and give them opportunities to get to know each other as people, and to understand each other, and immediately incivility becomes increasingly difficult.  
When you know someone, and know what they care about, it’s very hard to be nasty.”  
That is how Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham summed up our conversation about civility last week on the KBYU Classical 89 talk show Thinking Aloud.  Host Marcus Smith invited Chief Justice Durham, Reverend Dean Jackson, and I to talk about the importance of respect in public discourse.  We discussed “A Call to Civility and Community: Ground Rules for Respectful Public Discourse and Behavior,” which the Provo Municipal Council and I adopted earlier this year.
The program will run Monday, August 9, at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., on Classical 89.  It will also appear on the main Thinking Aloud page for the next few weeks.  You can also listen to it here.
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Lagging Left Traffic Signals in Provo

Question:
I’ve noticed that there is no standard sequence (left turn, red, yellow, green) among the traffic lights in Provo.  Just note the 3 lights at 3700 N Univ., 3300 N University and 2230 N University.  With the imminent return of students and their families from all over the nation and our aging population this creates a very unsafe and confusing situation.  Could we please standardize all of the traffic lights in our city?
I have an opinion about which way would be best . . . Regardless of my preference, I think it is important for consistency and standardization.

Response:
It’s a complicated issue.  At heart is the State’s ability to tell us what to do on any State owned road ie… University Ave.  The Herald did an interesting “In Our View” on the subject. 

Quoting from the Herald, “Lagging-left signals have been used at key intersections in Provo and Orem for several years, and they are very popular among local drivers. For the past week or so, however, the Utah Department of Transportation changed three of the traffic lights on University Avenue back to leading left as part of a centralized traffic management plan associated with the I-15 rebuild.
UDOT says it will put the lights back to normal as soon as possible.
For now, though, the Provo and Orem traffic light systems will be under the agency’s control so they can be managed from its Traffic Operations Center. UDOT’s system overall is set up for leading left turns, hence we’re stuck with it for awhile.”

I agree with the importance of consistency and in Provo we will strive to work with the State for consistency.  However during the period of time that I15 is under construction, the State may be more concerned about moving cars than consistency.

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Downtown Provo Gallery Stroll

Last night I made it to all 8 locations of the Downtown Provo Gallery Stroll. 
Highlights:
Meeting Ashley Mae Hoiland who went to high school with my daughter
Meeting the owner of Painted Temple and learning about their business
Learning about the talented Callis family
Seeing the youth art at the Covey Center

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Positive Economic News in Provo

Revenues at Provo’s East Bay Golf Course are up almost $75,000 compared to last year.  Just one more example of how so many are working hard to make the most of Provo’s tax dollars.
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