Keith Johnson, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — More than 200 law enforcers from across Utah and a couple of surrounding states were in Salt Lake City Thursday to learn about the latest ways to investigate robbery and violent crimes.
The idea to host the first annual Utah Violent Crimes Conference came because of the large number of requests from detectives to attend training conferences out of state, said Salt Lake Assistant Police Chief Rick Findlay. Financially, it's very hard to do, so a proposal was made to bring the training conferences to detectives instead.
"I get training requests from detectives all the time asking to go from coast to coast to cities that traditionally host these types of events: Las Vegas, New Orleans, even back east to Chicago and New York. And it's very difficult to send a large number of detectives to get the quality kind of training that we're going to provide here," he said.
The two-day conference was expected to cover everything from robbery 101 to cold case homicides and how to track kidnap victims. Because of the investigative techniques being discussed, the conference was closed to the public.
Findlay said hosting the Utah Violent Crimes Conference in Salt Lake City is not an indicator that violent crime is on the rise in Utah.
"The sense of safety within any community is how susceptible they think they may be to violent crime. Burglaries and larcenies, while they still are our biggest problem — those are our most numerical or high quantity of problem — but it's the violent crime, it's the person crime that can make a community feel unsafe. So it's not that we've seen an increase in violent crime, but the specialization that detectives need to have to investigate violent crime — that's really a specialization and we feel it's important to get those specialists together," he said.
The technology used to apprehend defendants and hold them accountable has changed over the years, and investigators need to be kept apprised of the latest tools, Findlay said.
"The technology has changed and grown just like it has in the civilian world and in society in general. But the motivation for violent crime has remained the same, whether it's greed, desperation, just people using violence as a method of conflict resolution because they don't have the social skills not to use violence," he said.
The other advantage to hosting such a conference is the networking that officers can gain with each other by meeting and participating in workshops face-to-face, Findlay said. That becomes invaluable when police departments from several agencies may be looking for the same suspect.
"Our criminal offenders do not abide by jurisdictions the way that governments do," Findlay said."Rather than just a number and name in (an officer's) phone, now they have a relationship with (the other investigator)."
The FBI helped Salt Lake police put the conference together, but the agency unable to attend because of the government shutdown.
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