WEST VALLEY CITY As Travis Deveraux stood at a podium and talked to the West Valley City Council Tuesday night, he looked as comfortable with his Smith and Wesson .40 caliber handgun proudly hanging on his hip as the mayor with his gavel.
It didn't hurt that Deveraux, a West Valley resident, was flanked by 10 other men openly carrying their guns to make a statement in favor of their Second Amendment rights to bear arms. Deveraux, who says he's been handcuffed and harassed because of his gun several times in the last six months in the city, made a plea to West Valley's council to reconsider how the police respond to situations similar to his.
"It's an awesome opportunity to live in a country where we have rights to carry a firearm," Deveraux told the council. "I appreciate the fantastic job the police officers do when they need to respond to dangerous situations, but I must demand that a change needs to be made to address certain issues to protect our rights."
Deveraux has a license to carry his weapon, but he's been confronted more than once because of it. In December, Deveraux was taking a walk around the block when a Granite school district police officer drew his gun on him and demanded he lie on the ground because the gun was openly displayed.
A few months later, Deveraux was in a bank with his gun in its holster, but police officers were summoned, Deveraux said. The officers threatened to file charges against Deveraux for having the gun but never did.
"I don't mind an officer approaching me and asking me questions, but I do mind when they put a gun on me and handcuff me for no apparent reason," Deveraux said. "What they should be afraid of is the criminal with the hidden gun."
Some of Deveraux's supporters said West Valley City has an agenda against those who are legally allowed to openly carry their weapons, but Deveraux enthusiastically pointed out that permitted weapons carriers and police officers are "on the same side."
"We're good guys and cops are good guys," Deveraux said. "We want to help each other out. That's what it's all about."
West Valley City assistant police chief Craig Black said he only heard of Deveraux's complaints on Tuesday. The city's protocol for responding to 911 calls of a person with a gun is to send two cars to the scene, Black said.
The officers don't know what they'll encounter when they arrive, so they are trained to respond in a way that will keep them safe, Black said.
"Our officers don't know what they're responding to when they get that 911 call (reporting a man with a gun)," Black said. "People who are responsible enough to carry guns should understand that they may cause alarm. The officers are going to respond in a manner to protect the community they serve and their own safety."
West Valley city manager Wayne Pyle said the city respects the residents' rights to carry weapons, but there won't likely be any policy changes because of the complaints. Pyle said police officers should always be polite and professional in the way they deal with the public and the department may do more training about laws pertaining to gun permits."Training is always an issue," Pyle said. "It's always good to have these issues brought to our attention. If this brings more awareness and knowledge of the law for the officers, then that's a good thing."
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