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Utah Legislature passes bills to tighten police forcible entry, surveillance laws

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature passed two bills Wednesday that would place tighter requirements on law enforcement regarding forcible entry practices and surveillance technology.

The Senate voted unanimously to pass SB82, a bill prohibiting no-knock forced entries in drug possession raids. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, would require officers to announce themselves before a forced entry in drug possession raids.

SB82 would also require officers to wear clothing that clearly identifies them as law enforcement when executing forcible entries, as well as body cameras if their agency has the equipment.

The Senate also voted unanimously to pass SB226, which would require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before using powerful surveillance technology that allows users to “see through walls,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs.

Madsen said the technology returns such detailed imagery that it has the potential to be very “invasive.”

A House committee previously amended the bill to remove provisions that specify requirements for the warrant application, including the need to indicate to a judge the intended use of the device, and describe the device’s capabilities and the measures that officers will take to avoid using the technology in a manner that goes beyond the scope of the warrant.

Both of the bills now go to Gov. Gary Herbert for consideration.

— Katie McKellar

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