Facebook Twitter

Utah experts weigh in on effects of crime on residents, use of deadly force

SHARE Utah experts weigh in on effects of crime on residents, use of deadly force

SALT LAKE CITY — People confront criminal behavior in different ways, and on Sunday morning, two experts weighed in on how crime is addressed in Utah.

Appearing on KSL's "Sunday Edition," psychologist Doug Goldsmith said horrific crimes, such as the recent killing of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy, can affect children, as well as adults.

"If it is overwhelming to us, it is doubly overwhelming for children," he said.

Modern technology allows children to be more aware of things happening around them, and parents often need to explain to their children that parents sometimes need help, too, said Goldsmith, who also oversees the Utah Children's Center.

Crimes that involve children, such as the Ethan Stacy case, can be more traumatic than crimes that involve only adults, Goldsmith said.

"We are all biologically wired to respond to the cries of a baby," he said.

Goldsmith said the human body responds physically to a child in danger because such incidents can invoke "fears and worries that all parents have."

Ethan Stacy's death may cause further strains on divorced families, Goldsmith said, because parents may not trust each other to take care of a child.

As for police, they are faced with daily decisions about how to confront criminal behavior, and among the most difficult are deciding when to use deadly force.

In order to help ensure police officers act appropriately, agencies look for officers who will have solid decision-making skills, Salt Lake County Sheriff James Winder told KSL.

During training, officers learn the rules, as well as tactics and techniques, to avoid the use of deadly force, Winder said. But in the field, agencies "rely greatly on the officer's decision-making."

Officers are allowed to use deadly force if there is an imminent fear of death or bodily harm to the officer or someone else, Winder said.

So far this year, Utah police officers have shot six people, killing four.

Improved training has reduced the number of officer-involved shootings, in part because the training now addresses how to handle people with mental illness, Winder said.

Officers are taught to "take just an extra second" to find out if a person is actually confrontational or is mentally ill, Winder said.

He said each officer is taught that the best tools for defusing a situation are the "mind and mouth."

e-mail: jsmith@desnews.com Twitter: @joshjonsmith