Priority bills all passed either unanimously, or with little dissent
Salt Lake City, UT (January 22, 2014) — In an effort to better protect both polices officers and the public at large, Libertas Institute has proposed reforms to Utah law regarding authorization over forcible entry warrants. House Bill 70, with both Republican and Democrat sponsorship and support, would establish a state-wide standard for judges to follow in making sure that authority to enter a citizen’s home is given only when absolutely necessary.
“While laws must be enforced, we are concerned that violent and confrontational methods to execute warrants are being authorized when not actually necessary,” said Libertas Institute President Connor Boyack. “Our goal here is to protect people on both sides of the gun—police officers and their suspects—such that the risk to life and property are minimized to the extent possible.”
The key portion of the bill would require judges to ask certain questions before authorizing forcible entry, ensuring that police officers think about less violent alternatives to enforcing the law and that judges do not authorize such warrants except when circumstances require that officers invade a home. The bill does not forbid or restrict forcible entry as a law enforcement tactic, but rather seeks to ensure it is utilized only when appropriate and as a last resort.
“We have been working for months to create language that is both reasonable and realistic,” said Boyack. “We recognize that police officers often have a tough job, but we also affirm that government’s role is to protect life, liberty, and property. These simple tweaks to the law will help strengthen that important protection.”
Libertas Institute has published a policy analysis offering more detail regarding the context and implications of this legislative proposal. To read that analysis, click here.