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Robert Kirby: The politics of forming my own police department

BYU has its own law enforcement; columnist wants to run one in his hometown of Herriman

Robert Kirby

Brigham Young University is fighting the state’s attempt to decertify its police department, labeling the move “politically motivated.”

Since we’re talking about the state of Utah, which is politically governed, it should come as no surprise that the matter may be motivated by politics.

As I understand it — which doesn’t mean I actually do — the state no longer wants the privately owned university to have state police powers.

At least some of this state police power means having access to personal information, which the university could then use (and already has used) to enforce its religious-based Honor Code.

If this sounds confusing, imagine the church where you worship God having its own police department.

Say you attend the First Church of the Holy Redeemer. The FCHRPD officers carry guns, have statewide enforcement powers, and can use this power to help enforce doctrinal matters.

Imagine, if possible, that an argument over a bit of theology at First Redeemer gets serious. The participants come to blows and a furious melee ensues. It’s rumored that someone pulls a knife.

Yeah, I know this is a stretch. I mean who’s ever heard of religion inciting this kind of violence? Anyway, the FCHRPD rushes to put down the problem.

Mistaking a small Bible for a handgun, one of the officers shoots a deacon in the pancreas. The screaming congregation flees the building. Arrests are made. A lawsuit follows.

Because the FCHRPD is a state law enforcement agency, the Salt Lake County district attorney gets involved, eventually ruling the shooting unjustified. The officer is charged and prosecuted.

This action infuriates the board of deacons at FCHR, which then excommunicates the D.A., even though he isn’t a member and doesn’t care. Mass excommunications of other political leaders follow.

OK, this is getting dumber by the minute. Remember that we were just pretending.

Here’s where the pretending stops. I have decided to establish a police department of my own. If BYU (a private entity) can have one, why can’t I?

Since I live in Herriman, I should probably discuss the matter with Herriman Police Chief Troy Carr, but I’m not going to because we’re not currently speaking.

Chief Carr and I have been at odds ever since he turned down my proposal to organize a volunteer anti-aircraft department to control the growing drone problem.

Me • “It’s a great idea.”

Him • “No it’s not. One of your morons will shoot at a National Guard helicopter. The city doesn’t have the budget to clean up after a retaliatory airstrike.”

Me • “Chief, if you’ll just listen…”

Him • “No. This is a worse idea than the one you had to get rid of our K-9 program and use tigers instead. Get out of here before I have your wife come and get you again.”

I could go around the chief and try the City Council, but then the whole thing becomes politically motivated, which is exactly the problem BYU claims it has.

So, after giving the matter the smallest bit of thought, I have decided to form a state-certified law enforcement agency. Shouldn’t be that hard. All I need are officers, equipment, training, payroll, support staff, a helicopter, an ammunition budget for the anti-aircraft department, an animal control staff, and a tiger.

Now I just have to find the money to pay for all of that. Since I don’t have a tax base, this part might be a little more difficult.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.

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