House Resurrects Bill Allowing Greater Use of Unmarked Patrol Cars

House Resurrects Bill Allowing Greater Use of Unmarked Patrol Cars

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah House has resurrected, amended and passed a bill allowing the Utah Highway Patrol to make greater use of unmarked patrol cars.

A day after rejecting the measure, the House voted 47-23 Thursday to approve it. The bill now goes back to the Senate for further consideration.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, would allow an unlimited number of patrol cars to be used under certain circumstances. Currently, the UHP may use only one unmarked car per operation.

The bill, as amended, would allow the use of more than one unmarked patrol car only with operations that don't take place in rural areas, are approved by the Public Safety Commissioner, last less than 14 days and specifically target aggressive drivers.

Rep. Bud Bowman, R-Cedar City, a former Utah Highway Patrol officer, said the highway patrol is the only agency in Utah that has restrictions on use of unmarked patrol cars.

"How many of you have witnessed an aggressive driver on I-15?" he asked. "That's what this is targeted for. It will not be used all the time and it will not cut down on the use of marked vehicles."

"These are bad drivers," said Rep. Loraine Pace, R-Logan. "They need to be targeted."

Opposition to the bill was led by Rep. Gregory Hughes, R-Draper, who feared it would put motorists in danger from criminals posing as highway patrolmen.

"My fear is when you create an environment for unmarked cars to pull people over, we are creating an environment for people to take advantage of that," he said.

Supporters argued that officers are required by the bill to be in uniform when using unmarked patrol cars, and the red and blue lights used in the cars are illegal in regular cars.

Bowman said the bill failed during the first House vote Wednesday because "people didn't understand it."

"The highway patrol isn't going to abuse this," he said. "It's to get aggressive drivers, reckless drivers and drunken drivers."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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