According to the Ministry of Public Security, there has been a rise in threat cases. The number of threats the agency is investigating has increased over the past year, many of them targeting Utah lawmakers. (Annie Barker, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — There has been a surge in threat incidents, according to the Department of Public Safety. The number of threats the agency is investigating has increased over the past year, many of them targeting Utah lawmakers.
Lt. Nick Street, spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety, said cases had risen about 5% over a year.
“So in 2019 we were below 100 (cases). And then over 100 came into our threat management unit in 2020,” Street said. “I think we’ve seen a 5% year-over-year increase to date, so we’re on track to see 100+ in 2022.”
Street said that while the scope of the targets is not limited, following the recent election and more than two years of COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates, threats against lawmakers and state health officials are helping push those numbers up.
Some threats are obfuscated and made through social media and can be handled or spread.
“Threat management is not done in secret. It’s a very public cause where we involve many members of the community to work through issues such as bullying, grievances with elected leaders and grievances about other systems of government,” Street said.
In other cases, further measures are required. Street said people sometimes raise concerns “that go beyond what might be healthy.”
In this case, the DPS uses a multidisciplinary approach to determine if someone is on the path to violence. The agency uses standardized tools developed by mental health professionals to deal with a threat they believe could lead to violence.
“Our goal is to manage that, get them off that path, and continue to use the support of the community to keep them from going down that path again,” Street said.