Worried they may be sued if they make a mistake, particularly in light of new liquor laws, code and zoning enforcement officers in Utah have formed a statewide association and are developing a test that will be used to certify its members.
"This will be a way to make sure our officers know what they're doing and to weed out those who don't" said Claire Reese, a Salt Lake County business licensing official.The officers inspect property for violations ranging from landscaping regulations to people who keep pigs illegally. The codes are different in each community and can become confusing.
Reese said liquor laws passed by the state Legislature last year changed rules as to what hours liquor can be sold, among other things. If someone became drunk during a time when liquor should not have been sold and subsequently had an accident, that person could sue the code enforcement officer for not closing down the bar, he said.
"If we don't know the laws and ordinances, we could be culpable," Reese said.
Reese recently attended a convention along with four other Utahns where nationwide certification efforts were discussed. He said the new statewide association is known as the Utah Ordinance Compliance Association. One of its goals is to try to get cities to adopt similar ordinances.
He said the association hopes to begin certifying officers in 18 months.