Utah Supreme Court hears case regarding police officers and their guns

Attorney argues all officers, on or off duty, could be affected

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Oct. 20, 2018 11:46 p.m.

    I am a retired law enforcement officer of 20 years. FIRST. yes, a police officer is on duty 24 hours a day. Whether in uniform or not. Therefore he responded appropriately (with his gun UNHOLSTERED) as that is how we are trained year after year. He over-reacted badly in a manner in which his supervisors felt he escalated the situation beyond where it needed to go. I agree with that, and feel he should (at a minimum be assigned desk duty), where carrying a firearm isn't necessary.....Termination certainly is deserved.
    I have been pulled over by traffic cops, who berated me upon initial contact.
    So, that is an issue departments need to be aware of.
    Lastly the officer who came later, and told the officer, "we don't handle things that way around here....." he was wrong to pull a gun. that is not his call.
    That second to unholster could be a life or death decision.
    This all being said. To charge this officer criminally was a poor decision... Especially in light of the gentleman who fired numerous shots close to them, and has no punishment at all.

  • hbeckett Colfax, CA
    Oct. 17, 2018 12:05 p.m.

    what about the individual that fired at bess group was he charged in any way let us discuss the reason for the susposed confrontation has the other group been instructed in proper discharge of weapons around other humans

  • one old man MSC, UT
    Oct. 16, 2018 7:51 p.m.

    I'm a former law enforcement officer. I can see it now. Officers being required to say to someone who is brandishing a gun, swinging a knife, or advancing with an axe, "Excuse me, but can you please put that weapon down and take a look at my badge?"

    Yeah. Right.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Oct. 13, 2018 2:15 p.m.

    Put the shoe on the other foot. An angry, cursing guy walks up to a group of cops holding a pistol and a shotgun. That guy isn't going to jail and court, he's going to the morgue. Cops are supposed to exercise reason and good judgement. This cop did neither. Been watching too many Rambo movies. He's lucky he wasn't shot.

  • Farmington Fan Farmington, UT
    Oct. 13, 2018 12:02 p.m.

    This may not be the ideal fact situation in which to present the underlying issue to the Utah Supreme Court, but that ideal fact situation may not come along for many more years, so I'm glad it's before the Court, even imperfectly.

    I'm not a fan of bully cops, but I think the underlying issue shouldn't be ignored and not properly addressed, simply because Mr. Bess acted like a jerk and a bully. I do believe a police officer is always on duty, and should be able to brandish his firearm even when not on duty. However, I think a police officer should be required to identify himself as a police officer, when possible (in other than exigent circumstances), to avoid problems that would obviously come from someone brandishing a firearm without identifying himself as a police officer--such as could have happened in this circumstance. But I think that is a training issue, rather than a legal issue.

    In my opinion (as a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor), Mr. Bess should have still been charged with a crime in this circumstance, but it should have been the lesser crime of disorderly conduct, rather than the crime of threatening to use a dangerous weapon during a fight,

  • mightyhunterhaha Layton, UT
    Oct. 13, 2018 11:12 a.m.

    This appears to be a case where an off duty officer was upset. It does not appear to be a case where he was acting under the color of law. He was mad rightly so but abused his position in the attempt to excuse his anger. Does he have the responsibility to act in his official copacetic off duty? Yes. But carrying his shotgun and his side arm in his hands when confronting an issue and using uprofessions like communication was way over the line.

  • Sportsfan123 Herriman, UT
    Oct. 13, 2018 1:41 a.m.

    If bess had come up on my group he would have had several shot guns pointed in his direction, mistake number one bess waitied 10 mins before confronting the other group, mistake number two in pulling out a pistol he presented a threat to the other group where they then had a right to defend themselves.

    Had the other group not tried to deescalate the situation this situation could have turned out real bad.

    This is a classic case where police officers are hot heads and feel they need to push their weight around, its officers like these that should not be allowed on a police force, any individual that escalates a previously calm situation should never be a officer and considered a threat to the community.

    My uncle served as a county sherriff and retired in the 80's he once told me that even pulling out your service weapon required a written statement as to the reason it was pulled from its holster. In other words an offer better have a good reason to pull it or could be subject to disciplinary actions.

    Todays law enforce is trained to escalate and are allowed to draw their weapon as they see fit, national law enforcement has fundamentally changed and I wonder why?

  • n8ive american Shelley, Idaho
    Oct. 12, 2018 10:22 p.m.

    Sounds like Bess overstepped any authority he had as an officer by unholstering his gun and verbally assaulting the others, especially without first stating that he was an off duty police. If he is acting as an officer while off duty, then he needs to present himself as such and act accordingly. Otherwise, he is just a regular citizen and rules of civility apply. Sounds like he was charged accordingly.

  • Let's Agree to Disagree Mapleton, UT
    Oct. 12, 2018 7:29 p.m.

    I am a supporter of good law enforcement officers. However, based on all of the reporting, Mr Bess overreacted. This comment says it all:

    "The deputy noted that because five to 10 minutes had passed from the time Bess' group was shot at until Bess confronted them, the imminent danger had passed and Bess did not need to draw his gun."

    Franky I think it is fortunate for Mr Bess that the group he approached remained calm and tried to deescalate the situation, which is the behavior we would expect from the law enforcement officer.