The Lehi City Police Department takes the safety and well-being of our officers and those we serve seriously and we strive to maintain a culture of mutual respect and trust with the community. One of the most important skills to maintain safety and respect is a police officer’s ability to use effective verbal communication to de-escalate a confrontation. Our goal is to bring about voluntary compliance with the established laws and statutes and avoid, if possible, using any type of force, especially that force which can result in injuries to the individual or to any of our officers. In the following paragraphs we summarize some of the tools that we use to ensure our officers are providing a safe and respectful environment.
Currently we issue body cameras to officers who deal with the public. Department policy requires that officers turn on body cameras when dealing with members of the public. Body cameras protect both officers and citizens during an exchange. Footage from these cameras is used for internal review and training of officers.
EXCESSIVE FORCE REVIEW
In the case where an officer uses force beyond standard handcuffing, we follow a review process to ensure officers adhere to department policies and do not use excessive force. The review board is made up of five individuals, including the officer’s Division Supervisor, a representative from the Professional Training and Standards Division, and a person from an outside department within the city. The board provides recommendation for any additional training or warranted disciplinary action(s) to Chief Paul for consideration.
In addition to an internal review board, we participate in a county-wide Officer-Involved Critical Incident (OICI) Task Force. This multi-jurisdictional task force is comprised of several professional investigators and attorneys committed to reviewing critical officer-involved incidents where substantial injury or risk of injury may occur. For more specific information, our OICI agreement can be found on our city website.
CRISIS INTERVENTION TRAINING
In addition to receiving de-escalation training during the initial police academy curriculum, we have been sending officers to Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training as often as classes are available. Currently, 93% of our officers have received the training and been certified in CIT. Our goal is, and always will be, 100% certification, but that is difficult as officers retire or resign and we hire new officers to replace them and to keep up with growth in the city. New officers participate in CIT training as soon as possible, which is usually twice a year.
VIRTRA SIMULATOR TRAINING
Over the last few years we have participated in VirTra Simulator Training with many of the other law enforcement agencies in Utah County. VirTra provides simulated scenarios on a computer-generated 300-degree platform that is designed to induce a physiological response in the officer. The simulator enforces judgmental use of force and decision-making to enhance the skills and knowledge of both new and veteran officers. One of the major benefits of using the professionally produced scenarios on the VirTra Simulator is the cultivation of effective verbal communication (de-escalation skills) with subjects during tense situations.
The Lehi City Police Department believes that Community Outreach Programs are “important to the ultimate success of more traditional law enforcement duties. This department will continue to work with community groups, local businesses and neighborhoods to provide equal access to such programs and services.” (Lehi City Police Department Policy #368.17). Some of the programs that are part of what police department provides are:
- School Resource Officers-the department provides an officer for each high school as well as a third officer that splits time between the junior high schools.
- Law Enforcement Class-the department provides an officer, usually a Lieutenant) to each high school to teach a state-approved curriculum to students. This is provided at no cost to either high school or the school district.
- NOVA-taught by certified instructors at local elementary schools.
- National Night Out Against Crime-in conjunction with a national event held annually.
- R/X Take Back Events-held twice each year in partnership with the DEA and the Utah Department of Health.
- Citizen’s Academy-annual academy for citizens and elected leaders to gain some experience with what police officers might face each day.
- Bi-lingual Services-the department strives to make officers and employees that speak a second language, primarily Spanish, available to citizens during interactions with members of the department.
- Vehicle Lock-Out Assists-the department provides officers with the equipment necessary to assist citizens/motorists with basic lock-out services (when able to do so).
- Civilian Ride-Along Policy-provides members of the public the opportunity to ride along with a patrol officer to get a small glimpse of what an officer might experience during a shift.
We value the relationship with have with the residents of Lehi. We look forward to continuing to build a culture of safety and mutual respect with those we serve. For more information, visit lehi-ut.gov/departments/police or call 385.201.1005.
Chief Darren Paul