Gun owners complain about treatment in West Valley City

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Sarah Dallof reportingA group of gun owners is upset with the West Valley City police force. They claim officers are treating them unfairly because they choose to carry their weapons in shoulder and hip holsters, completely out in the open.

In Utah, there are places no one but law enforcement can take a gun, and there are restrictions, for example people without a concealed carry permit can't openly carry a loaded gun, but much of the time, it's allowed.

Jared Belcher is among those who choose to carry a gun. "It's a Bursa Thunder 380 I carry just about every day," he says. He carries it on his belt, out in the open. He said, "Most people, surprisingly, don't notice I have it."

Belcher says he's never had a problem taking the gun anywhere, but he's concerned because others he's met through the organization have. Travis Deveraux says he was walking in his West Valley neighborhood when an officer pulled up, pulled out her gun and ordered him on the ground.

"At the end there were a total of eight officers who'd cuffed me up, taken my firearm. But they let me go because there was nothing wrong I'd done," Deveraux said.

Belcher and Deveraux joined more than a dozen other gun owners tonight at the West Valley city council meeting to voice concerns about how the city's police force has handled several situations.

Scott Thompson, who also openly carries his gun, said, "A lot of the officers seem to be ignorant of the fact that carrying a firearm openly in public is perfectly legal in Utah, if done properly."

Wayne Pyle, the city manager for West Valley City, said, "Until today I'd never heard there was any concern, complaint or incident." He had limited time to research the cases but says it appears West Valley Police handled them appropriately. He adds that in any situation where officers know someone has a gun, they're extra cautious. "This is a different day and age than the late 19th century. It's not common to see people wearing side-arms on the street," he said.

After hearing the group's comments, the city council recommended the citizens file their complaints with the city's Professional Standards Review Board, which investigates concerns against officers.


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