Following protests, governor enacts ban on police chokeholds in Utah

People gather during a Black Lives Matter protest in Salt Lake City, June 10, 2020 | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert enacted a ban Thursday on chokeholds for all state-level law enforcement officers and called on all other police agencies in the state to follow suit — his first major police reform since George Floyd’s killing by a police officer in Minneapolis set off global protests.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a press conference at the Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, June 11, 2020 | Pool photo by Spenser Heaps/Deseret News via The Associated Press, St. George News

The Republican governor also said he will implement implicit bias training for all state government officials and tasked his public safety commissioner with identifying other ways to decrease fear and anger of police in “under represented” communities and increase police transparency with a report due by July 1.

“Nobody should have fear of our police,” Herbert said. “It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, your ethnicity, your background. Everybody is equal under the law and they should look at police and law enforcement, the men and women of law enforcement, as friends.”

Herbert’s announcement comes one day after Salt Lake City police banned choke holds, following many other cities around the country including Phoenix and Denver. His ban applies to officers with the Utah Department of Public Safety and Department of Corrections.

Floyd, a black man, pleaded for air and later died after a white police officer in Minnesota pressed his knee into his neck. Thousands of people have participated in daily protests in Salt Lake City over the last two weeks protesting police brutality and calling for racial justice. Some protesters want police agencies to have less funding.

Speaking generally about Floyd’s death and the police officer’s actions, Herbert said that “abuse of power is never acceptable.”

“When we witness these kinds of egregious actions, examples of cruelty from those who in fact are sworn to protect and to serve, it adds to the divisiveness that we should not want nor desire to have in our society,” Herbert said. “We can’t ignore it, we can’t say it’s OK. We certainly can’t say all is well in our society.”

Herbert also said he will elevate the directors of the state’s Division of Multicultural Affairs, Nubia Peña, and the state’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Dustin Jansen, so that they report directly to him and have a seat at leadership meetings.

Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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