Photo credit: Julie Ostler | Assistant Photo Editor | @jules1lo
January’s Pizza and Politics event gave students the opportunity to ask Keith Squires, Utah’s Commissioner of Public Safety, and Utah County Sheriff James Tracy, questions about local law enforcement.
Tracy said it was a great opportunity for them to find out what students are interested in and to educate people about what’s going on in law enforcement.
Squires talked about the “use of force” issue that has been reported in the media lately. “Use of force” has been defined by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as the “amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject.”
Squires said these kinds of incidents haven’t increased significantly, but media coverage has increased and the events are being broadcast to the public with more immediacy.
Tracy said another big issue is the “militarization” of police.
“Ultimately, we’re responsible for not only the safety of the public but also to provide as much safety for our officers as we can,” Tracy said.
In a recent active shooter scare at Pleasant Grove High School more than 200 officers equipped with tactical gear responded to the school.
He said a lot of people were critical of the response, but it was necessary to secure every part of the building.
“The fact of the matter is, that when seconds count, the police are minutes away,” Tracy said. “How many children in the school could be injured or killed if that kind of response wasn’t initiated.”
Both Tracy and Squires encourage students and all citizens to follow the maxim, “If you see something, say something”.
“The basic concept of what we’re talking about really is about community watch programs,” Squires said. He said since law enforcement resources are so spread out it helps if citizens can alert them to things going on that might become an issue.
Tracy, who is an ardent proponent of the 2nd Amendment, also said that rights come with responsibilities.
“If you’re going to exercise your rights, you should also exercise responsibility and learn how, when and what to do,” Tracy said.
Jacob Grow is an economics student who actively participated in the forum. He said he likes the pizza and politics event and thinks they did a good job answering his questions.
“I think it’s important that citizens ask those questions,” Grow said. “People not asking questions is the reason we arrive at some of the problems we are in.”
The Pizza and Politics series was started last semester by the UVUSA Political Action Committee. Kameron Gonzalez who is the chief justice of UVUSA and the chairman of the PAC said he wants to help UVU students become more connected with the political atmosphere in Utah and become more aware of the issues that are affecting them.
“We enjoy the rich political dialogue that we’ve received so far,” Gonzalez said.
The group plans to continue the events every month over the next semester.