SALT LAKE CITY– There seemed to be relatively few Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) during Wednesday’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the steps of the Utah State Capitol. However, UHP Lieutenant Nick Street says there were a lot more troopers who remained unseen and ready to intervene if things got violent.
“We were ready on the interior and with reserves, and were working with our local [law enforcement] partners,” said Street.
According to Street UHP discovered a better way to gauge the potential danger during any kind of protest. For instance, authorities look through open social media posts, and UHP analysts were able to nearly predict how many people would show up to the Capitol.
“We knew certain bad actors that have committed crimes during incidents of protest or riots in the past were also going to be present,” Street explained.
While tensions rose between protesters and journalists, Street said there were only a few “scuffles” on Capitol grounds. Street said they were able to find and arrest a person accused of stealing an opposing protester’s cell phone. But, they’re still trying to find the person who reportedly hit a Salt Lake Tribune photographer with pepper spray.
“We do have some good evidence to follow, and hopefully, we feel pretty confident we can track this individual down,” he said.
The Capitol is closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Street said they look forward to the day they can reopen the doors to allow the general public back. In the meantime, they’ll make slight security changes.
“I’m hearing that during the legislative session we will start instituting some bag checks,” Street noted.
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