Not So Simple Solutions
"Let's change criminal behavior." Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, and Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, think it's just that simple. Let's not blame police overreach or systemic racism because that changes the playbook. Hutchings, who is not in law enforcement, wonders if it's even possible for police officers to "calmly weigh their actions when they're scared for their lives," The Salt Lake Tribune reports. And Ray thinks the backlash is all from people who don't like law enforcement. Sounds like the GOP mantra that Democrats hate America and are anti-God, or something. A few years back, The Atlantic noted America's crime rates have dramatically declined over the past 25 years but couldn't say why. Factors such as income, alcohol, incarceration rates or even abortion laws made little significant difference. But for Hutchings, policing is a lot like football: You have to make split-second decisions. But, don't football players practice and train for that moment?
How Citizens Respond
Can we talk about citizens for minute? Let's look at two scenarios, both involving policing. Back to Rep. Ray, who really, really doesn't like the idea of citizen review boards. "You don't want a group of anti-law enforcement civilians telling the chief what to do, what policies they have," Ray told the Tribune. You have to wonder why, when a KSL investigation showed that "in nearly every decision the past year, the Salt Lake City civilian review board agreed with what police had determined." Only two such boards are operating in Utah and neither has subpoena power. Onto the second example in Cottonwood Heights. There, the Utah Citizens' Alarm came out, in riot gear and packing heat. The Guardian looked at the troublesome history of "militias" in America, and it's not pretty. The Anti-Defamation League calls them "a relatively new right-wing extremist movement consisting of armed paramilitary groups." Do we trust citizens or not?
The Utah Taxpayers Association is kind of like the Supreme Court—you know who they are, but sometimes they surprise you. The association just weighed in on a planned nuclear power plant in Idaho, saying it's too costly, driving another dagger into the heart of the nuclear power industry. Neither energy nor nuclear uncertainty spurred the association to action—it was the money, stupid. The U.S. Department of Energy thinks it's a grand idea and has given a private company $242.7 million to build an unproven small-scale nuclear plant in Idaho Falls, according to the Deseret News. Since 2009, only two of 31 pending projects remain. The 27 Utah municipalities have to decide soon whether they will commit millions to this quixotic plan.