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Bill to limit force in police raids passes House

First Published Mar 04 2014 06:21 pm • Last Updated Mar 04 2014 10:42 pm

The Utah House passed legislation Tuesday aimed at reining in the force used in police raids and preventing innocent people from being targeted.

Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, said his goal was to try to craft a policy that protects citizens and police. It would require police in most cases to identify themselves when they enter a home, unless they can show a good reason to execute a so-called no-knock warrant.

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Roberts said his bill, HB70s2, doesn’t eliminate the use of no-knock warrants, but does seek to "make sure it’s absolutely necessary and they enter the right home."

The bill comes in part as a response to a high-profile drug raid on the Ogden residence of Matthew David Stewart that resulted in a fierce gun battle that left an officer dead and five wounded. Stewart later hanged himself in his jail cell awaiting trial.

Rep. Larry Wiley, D-West Valley City, said he was called one night to see a home that police had mistakenly raided, blasting gas through each window and leaving the innocent family inside on their lawn draped in blankets, their home uninhabitable.

"[Roberts’ bill] really helps law enforcement to fully understand the ramifications of no-knock, to break in, to tear apart a home," Wiley said. "I really hope HB70 will … make law enforcement accountable for what they are doing."

Roberts said the Fraternal Order of Police asked him to note that his bill codifies current practices and "is not a repudiation of any police officer or police department."

The bill passed the House 69-6 and goes to the Senate for consideration.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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