SALT LAKE CITY — Four police agencies in Northern Utah are investigating officer involved shootings that have taken place since April 1. If you expand that date back to March 1, the number grows to six.
Officers in Salt Lake City said the consequences of these shootings weigh on the back of their minds, and can lead officers to second guess some of their decisions.
But they said for all the scrutiny they’re under, they still feel their first job is to protect and serve.
Officer Jess Perea loves being a cop.
He said, “You get to meet different people, not only your citizens on the street, also, prominent people in the city.”
He’s been a police officer for 16 years, 10 of them on the streets of Salt Lake. While he’s felt as if he’s under a microscope at times, “It’s not bad, I don’t think,” Perea said.
He focuses mostly on the people he works with.
“You talk to people how you would want to be spoken too, everybody’s fine, treat them with respect regardless,” Perea said.
Case in point, he got a call about a man possibly selling marijuana next to a 7-11. Perea talked to him. Learned his name, found out he’s homeless, and the guy said people just kept calling the police on him. Perea and two other officers didn’t find anything suspicious, and the man declined to be searched. We drove away.
“I think the citizens, they still like and appreciate what we do,” Perea said.
He has noticed changes over his career. He’s wearing a body camera now and nearly everyone has a camera phone too.
He said officers make mistakes, they’re human after all, but they’re encouraged to turn to their peers when they start second guessing their decisions.
“OK, did I do something, should I do something differently, you start getting that, that’s when our peer support staff come over,” said Perea.
At the scene of an accident, a random driver thanked Perea for his service.
“You get a lot of that,” Perea said.
He said that happens way more often to cops on the beat than one might think.