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Crime in Iron County

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

We visited with Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson and Sheriff ken Carpenter to discuss crime in Iron County.

What’s Really Happening in Southern Utah the Podcast

Episode 2206 – Air Date June 13, 2022

Crime in Iron County with guests Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson and Sheriff Ken Carpenter


Announcer: Welcome to What's Really Happening in Southern Utah, The Podcast. I'm your host Dan Kidder.

Our podcast is all about issues facing Southern Utah. Here, we will announce your upcoming events, talk with movers and shakers in our community about important issues facing Beaver, Iron, Kane, and Washington counties, and make sure you are kept in the loop with interesting news and commentary of local interest. While we welcome folks from all over, our goal with this podcast is to give residents of Southern Utah, a place to find out about issues that affect them. You can find us on Apple Podcasts and also on our Facebook group, What's Really Happening in Southern Utah and online at

You're listening to What's Really Happening in Southern Utah The Podcast with your host, Dan Kidder.

Kidder: Hey everybody, welcome back into the studio. It is good to be back. We're still in the midst of political season, but we are done with our debates. It looks like ballots are hitting people's mailboxes and votes are being cast. And so we are done here in the studio doing political debates. Oh thank heavens. Uh, it's been a lot of fun. So we get to move on to some more interesting topics. And one of the things that I have been noticing, uh, especially on Facebook, which is a horrible, terrible place to, to spend too much time, but there's a, an idea among people in Iron County and Cedar City that somehow crime is on the rise. You hear comments like, “oh, it's not the same Cedar City I grew up with.” “We didn't used to have to lock our doors.” And so I wanted to spend a little time in this podcast talking about crime in Iron County. And so I, I went out to the community and I found the two biggest dogs when it comes to crime in Iron County. I've got the big dogs in the house today. I've got sheriff, Ken Carpenter, and I have our county attorney Chad Dotson here in the studio. Welcome gentlemen.

Carpenter: Thanks, Dan.

Dotson: Thanks Dan. Appreciate you having us.

Kidder: So let's, uh, let's talk a little bit just in general, uh, about what crime in Iron County is looking like. Uh, usually by this time, uh, in the year, we've at least had one homicide, right? Have we have we had a homicide this year?

Dotson: It's almost like one of those situations where there's a no hitter a perfect game being thrown. I don't even wanna mention it because it may throw it off, but no, you're right. We haven't had a, a homicide in 2020, um, in 2021, we did not have, we had two attempts, but we didn't have a homicide, which was very fortunate. And that was unlike 2020, which was unprecedented where we had, uh, three homicides, uh, five suspects who have been charged and then two additional murder suicides; seven deaths total, but luckily 2020 was an outlier. And, um, we aren't seen, we aren't seen, uh, anything yet. Knock wood.

Kidder: Well, that's, that's good news. We don't have people getting knocked off, but really when we talk about crime on the increase or on the decrease or what the stats are, right, I've always loved in, in a community this size. If, if we have one homicide in, in one year and then the next year we have two homicides, we've had a hundred percent increase in homicides and it's just because of the low number of homicides we have, right? It's not Chicago where they have 65 homicides every weekend. And you know, five extra homicides in a year is a 1% increase or something. But talk it a little bit about that. Can you, you get an idea for, uh, the number of calls that are going out? Are we seeing more calls? Are we seeing less calls?

Carpenter: Well, that's a, that's a good question, Dan, generally it seems like we're, we are busier. Uh, but you have to remember that nationally, on a national average, 1% of the population is criminal in nature. And when you consider Iron County, you have to take into consideration all of that. So it's not just what we have here in Iron County, but everything that's passing through on I 15 as well. Uh, you know, I remember several years ago I had a, a, uh, Sergeant from unified PD that was on the Gangs task force up there that came down to speak with faculty when I was a school resource officer. And he mentioned that when he had come into town, he had gone into McDonald's and had found a tag on the mirror in the bathroom. That was one of his bankers up in west valley. So, you know, even though they may not belong to our community, there's still people with criminal intentions that pass through our community and, and may jump off the freeway and, and commit crime.

Kidder: So you had to recent call outs for the SWAT team where you had to deal with a homicide, uh, suspect. And he was from what, LA?

Carpenter: So we've, we've had two in two days. Uh, one was, uh, a California, former California resident for a, uh, a carjacking. And then the following day, we had a homicide suspect of a homicide out of Salt Lake that the, uh, suspect ended up down here in area.

Kidder: Now, the SWAT team's been a little bit busy haven't they?

Carpenter: SWAT team's been very busy. Uh, back when I was the commander, uh, just prior to being elected sheriff, we were averaging about five to seven callouts a year. Uh, last year we had 24 SWAT callouts.

Kidder: Wow.

Carpenter: So, so far this year we've had eight SWAT callouts so far this year.

Kidder: And I remember talking to your predecessor, Mark Gower, uh, about the SWAT team. And one of the things he told me is just about daily. Uh, the SWAT team gets called out and it's typically for a, a suspect or subject who, who is intent to harm themselves or having a mental health crisis of some sort.

Carpenter: A lot of times, a lot of times that's true. Uh, you know, we always want to be able to, to handle things at the lowest level possible, but a lot of times having the, the proper equipment and training, uh, the additional training that the SWAT team has is what helps reduce that threat, you know, because we're better equipped to be able to, uh, handle the situation, especially if it turns volatile.

Kidder: So one of the things that I know you've done to, to address that is you've created a mental health unit within the Sheriff's department. Tell us a little bit about that.

Carpenter: Oh, it's, uh, kind of struggling a little bit right now, uh, because of, uh, personnel, uh, manpower issues and whatnot. But what we've done is, is gotta give credit where credit is due. And it, it really belongs to west valley city, west valley city started a mental health unit up, uh, up in west valley. Uh, we went up and, and went on a ride along with their mental health unit, saw how they did things and then tried to model it after what they've done up there. Uh, what we did was there's, uh, what's called C I T, uh, which is a 40-hour block for crisis intervention. And then we've added an additional 40-hour block on that for officers or deputies who want to be involved in the mental health unit, which makes them what we call tier two officer or tier two deputy. And what that basically does, is it, it really, what it means is that they're more familiar with the specifics of mental health and the specifics of what resources are available here in Iron County. And, uh, gives us the ability of being able to, to identify people that have been in crisis and to be able to, to identify their family members and be able to reach out to them, to offer them help through the services that are available and then be able to follow up with them.

Kidder: So this is more proactive than right involved with an incident, but are there approaches that they take differently in that critical moment, um, than a regular patrol deputy might take?

Carpenter: not, not necessarily, uh, other than being able to recognize and, and, you know, try to deescalate, which all of our officers and deputies are, are doing de de-escalation training as well. But, you know, in the heat of the moment we have to deal with the threat. We have to deal with the reality of the situation in that moment, you know, after we've got things stabilized, then we can start extending additional help and resources. You know, that's one of the things that I think the west valley has done very well and that we would love to be able to do eventually is to be able to have a mental health counselor that's part of our team and is able to do those follow-ups and make sure that, that these people are still getting whatever help that they need, and if they need to have, uh, medications or, or whatever, to be able to help that they're able to, to get any of those resources available, to, to be able to help them with their particular situation.

Kidder: And that that's kind of a, uh, problem statewide actually nationwide. I remember back in the eighties when Reagan closed down a lot of the mental institutions and, and hospitals, uh, the ability for people in crisis and, and needing that kind of level of care, went away in a lot of ways. Um, and in, in Iron County, I know we have very limited mental health, uh, treatment options available and, uh, precare, I would say. Uh, and so you kind of get dumped, uh, at the jail, it, it becomes sort of a psych hospital for a lot of those folks, doesn't it?

Carpenter: Yeah. You know, and that's a, that's a real problem is because honestly the jail is not the mental health facility, and yet we've been forced to become one. Uh, you know, there's so few what's called B-Med bed spaces, uh, for psychiatric care in Southern Utah, that if we take someone in, uh, that we feel is a danger to themselves or others, and, and do what's called a pink sheet, uh, where it, it requires the hospital to do an evaluation of them. You know, if the facilities aren't available, then they may be turned back out on the street, even before we're done doing all the…

Kidder: whether they're a danger to others of themselves or not.

Carpenter: Right.

Kidder: And how does the county attorney's office deal with that issue too? Because you, you obviously have to deal with the criminals coming in, right. People have committed, you know, violent crimes, but some of those people even are, are suffering mental health issues. And how do you differentiate that?

Dotson: Well, we do have a, a mental health court, which we try to divert, um, individuals who, but for their mental illness or their, uh, the episode, um, would not have committed that particular crime. And if they are, uh, low risk or if they are high risk, but we feel like we can supervise them with the, with Southwest and a, a tracker from adult probation and parole. Um, those people will go into this alternative court supervised by a fifth district court judge. And, uh, they get treatment as part of their probation. They're tracked by, um, a probation officer. And at the end, if they can be successful, they can either have their charges reduced or dismissed, which is a great alternative to sending somebody to a long jail sentence or prison. Somebody who's just struggling with mental health or having a crisis, but going back to the, uh, the, the mental health court unit, another thing correct me if I'm wrong, uh Ken is that, um, we would have the ability to flag certain individuals so that correct, that person could have notes. So an officer who may not have interacted with this individual prior mm-hmm <affirmative> will see that I'm dealing with somebody who's on the, the spectrum for autism, or has schizophrenia. So just having that information going is, I think really what's beneficial for an officer who's interacting with somebody who's right. That that's important.

Carpenter: And that's part of the C I T training, uh, you know, is, is to get officers and deputies that CIT training, where they're able to identify, uh, that these folks have some type of mental disability, uh, that they need help with and, and how to maybe approach 'em, you know, how to avoid triggers and different

things like that.

Kidder: Oh, that's great. And, you know, I've noticed I I've worked with law enforcement all over the United States, and one thing I've noticed there's some innovative programs in the state of Utah. There's some great programs that I think, uh, other states could really take under their wing. There's some other programs that are horrible, like the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. Uh, and we'll talk a little bit about that in a minute, but, um, the other thing I, there's an alternative court for several things. And one that I've been really impressed with is the drug court.

Dotson: Sure.

Kidder: And that program, tell us a little bit about that.

Dotson: It's very similar to our mental health court. Um, of course we just try to differentiate, differentiate needs. Uh, so somebody who is a drug addict or somebody who has substance abuse issues, um, we can divert into that program. Uh, they're tracked by a deputy with the Sheriff's office and they do a great job working with, um, the horizon house or any other treatment program. Um, so as part of their probation, they go through substance abuse, uh, treatment they're tracked regularly by a deputy with the Sheriff's office. And they come before the judge weekly and give reports on how they're doing. And, um, again, the incentive is you can have your case dismissed or reduced. And we've seen a lot of success, uh, both with drug court and mental health court, some fantastic stories where people who have participated in the program are now actually working as, uh, as counselors and mentors.

Kidder: Oh, wow.

Dotson: That come back and help. So it, it's, it's a great thing to see, cause you don't always have those success stories in our line of work. So when it, when you do see 'em you celebrate 'em.

Kidder: So some of the issues that are really becoming more to the forefront, especially with I 15 corridor here and we see a lot of drug trafficking and human trafficking, and, and I both have to say for both of you, um, was very proud to see work with a, a friend of mine; uh, Craig “Sawman” Sawyer.

Dotson: Yeah.

Kidder: Um, former Navy seal runs the, uh, the vets for child rescue program. And I was super.. how many guys did you take off the streets in those raids? It was something stupid, like 50 wasn't.

Dotson: It seems higher than I remember, but it was more than we wanted to see. There was a lot of people that responded to those, those chats and came from other places, Iron County, more than we wanted that particular one with, with Craig.

Carpenter: Uh, it's been several years now, but we've made eight, eight arrests on that particular one. Uh, and some of them were, were pretty dangerous. We took, uh, one, uh, man down that, that, uh, had told what he perceived to be these two 13 year old girls, that he was going to come, help them run away. Uh, but he actually had a, a bar in California that was a, uh, money laundering for the cartels. And he was planning on taking him back and putting 'em into sex, sex, slavery there. We were able to arrest him. But something that might be of interest to you is we just did a, another sting that was similar to what we did with Craig's group through what's called ICAC, the internet crimes against children. Uh, it was coordinated through the attorney General's office and we hosted one of one part of that, uh, operation here in, in, uh, Iron County with Cedar PD and Enoch PD as, as co-partners with us. And in that, uh, here in Iron County, we've made two arrests and have three active investigations. So far across the state. We had 13 arrests, uh, 10 search warrants served and weren't served in 12, uh, investigations that are still pending.

Kidder: So it's still a problem. And anybody who has kids, I highly recommend you go online and you find Contraland, the movie. Contraland, the movie, and you can actually see, uh, the, the Cedar City police department, the Iron County Sheriff's department, Iron County, attorney's office, working with Craig man, uh, Craig “Sawman” Sawyer, uh, to accomplish that, uh, feat. And you can see the, the, the methods that these predators use to get these, these children. You would, you would cut their, your kids' access to the internet. If, if you see this movie, you'll never let your kids online again. Um, crazy.

Dotson: Yeah. There's a lot of things that I, uh, my, my kids don't love because of my job. And one of them is they can't even play certain video games cuz they won't play games that have internet access to 'em.

Kidder: Yeah. My, my girlfriend's, uh, daughter was approached by a predator online and, and law enforcement ended up getting involved and it was through a game chat.

Dotson: Right.

Kidder: And yeah, it's, it's not just on Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram and all that.

Carpenter: There there's other methods that they use, well, not, not to diverge, but you're seeing the same thing with other parts of organized crime. Uh, you know, I've got some friends that are sheriffs in the, on the border, down in Arizona. And they're telling me that one of the problems that they're running into now is through TikTok where the cartels are advertising to juveniles, to drive form, to run drugs and, and humans for 'em and they'll pay 'em a thousand dollars and tell 'em drive as fast as you can, don't stop for anything. And, uh, they're telling me that they're averaging two high speed pursuits day and oh good, great. A lot of 'em are, are ending tragically and, and what they're bringing in, isn't what it used to be


Kidder: Now they're bringing in this new Chinese fentanyl, aren't they?

Carpenter: Right.

Kidder: And have we seen a lot of that in Iron County?

Dotson: We really have. So I, I made a note, uh, before I came in because really since, uh, the Biden administration Biden administration took over, we've seen an increase in pipeline cases specifically with fentanyl and this year alone in, in April. And may we just saw, it was average of two a week in April and may of, of large fentanyl pipeline cases is what we call them. And, um, I think that's a direct result as the, the failure to enforce the border. And we're just seeing more.

Kidder: Has there been a corresponding decline in heroin and, and methamphetamine as a result of that? Or is it all coming in?

Dotson: We still see a lot of meth, but I do. I do think that fentanyl is, seems to be, uh, overtaking heroin.

Carpenter: We're, we're getting a lot though. We, we, we're still getting a lot. Usually when we, when we, with these pipelines, when we get, uh, fentanyl, we're also getting either meth or heroin with them. A lot of times we're finding meth or heroin that have also been laced with fentanyl. Uh, we're starting to see even marijuana being laced with fentanyl. And so, you know, fentanyl just so people understand how dangerous it is. Meth and heroin are measured in grams. Fentanyl is measured in grains. So if you took seven individual grains of salt and put that into, into fentanyl, that would be a lethal dose. And so when you're lacing marijuana with fentanyl, now you're taking somebody that thinks they're just gonna get a little bit high and it puts 'em into a drug overdose.

Kidder: And there's a tolerance buildup with fentanyl. You know, somebody who's used fentanyl for years, would have a much higher tolerance for it than somebody who hasn't been exposed at all and gets an accidental exposure and that can suddenly be lethal.

Carpenter: Absolutely.

Kidder: And I, one of the reasons I carry Naloxone, uh, with me, I have Naloxone in my first aid kit in my truck. Um, and, and those who are interested in finding out about that the, the state has a program in place where they provide this, uh, antidote to any opioid for free. You can go into a pharmacy and, and request it that pharmacists can actually prescribe it to you. So if you have a, a loved one you're worried about may have some way of overdosing on a, on a opioid, you can get that, but you can also call and they will send you, uh, three doses of Naloxone free of charge, and they'll even allow you to, uh, transfer that to other people. So that's a great program in, in something to have, uh, in your first aid kit, uh, for accidental, uh, exposure to some of these stuff, the stuff that's coming across the border. Talk to us a little bit about, there's a, some legislation coming out of the Senate, SB 1 79, the criminal justice coordinating, uh, councils. What, what is going on with that?

Dotson: Maybe Ken knows more the, every, it feels like every year there's something that they, they wanna require us to do. I've, I've read a little bit on this, but I'll be honest. It's one that's, it's not, uh, it's not on the forefront, but I know January is the deadline for us to put something together. Um, hopefully it will be beneficial, but I'm always a little bit, uh, pessimistic on <laugh> with good reason.

Carpenter: I think I, I, I kind of share Chad's view on that is I'm, I'm pretty pessimistic about it. Uh, you know, it's, it's just a, to me it's another bureaucratic nightmare. Uh, another meeting for people to attend where nothing really is accomplished, uh, in, and hopefully

I'm wrong, but...

Kidder: nothing positive's accomplished.

Carpenter: Right.

Kidder: But it ends up putting a whole bunch of burdens on local communities,

Carpenter: Right. In, in this particular case, it, it requires it's actually is supposedly supposed to be initiated, uh, by the county commission. And it can include, uh, law enforcement attorneys, medical, um...

Dotson: Fifth district court judge as well.

Carpenter: Yes. Yeah. Fifth district court judge. It, it, it has a whole laundry list of people that can be included. And, you know, we've already been approached by Beaver and Garfield county that don't even have any of those resources available to 'em. And they're wondering how they're going to, to be able to put anything like that together to be in compliance with the state law, uh, that the state law does allow for rural counties to be able to join together. And so we're, we're looking at that right now, as, as bringing in Beaver and Garfield counties in with our coordinating council, it was something that I just addressed to, uh, the commission last Tuesday. Uh, and you know, we've, we've had just preliminary talks about it, but right now, at this point, we don't even know what it's going to look like or, or really how it's going to function, what its true purpose really is.

Kidder: Is this, is this criminal justice, uh, reform initiative 2.0?

Dotson: I hope not. It feels like it's more trying to collect data and, and get reports, which I, I think is a good thing in a lot of ways to, to get good data, to make informed decisions. But, uh, yeah, there, it just, there feels like there wasn't a lot of, um, information passed along with, with the bill. So hopefully we'll get something productive out of it, but uh, yeah. Wait and see.

Kidder: Well, you, you mentioned you brough this up to the council, uh, to the county commission Tuesday, but there's some other big news that came out of the county commission on Tuesday.

Carpenter: That's true.

Kidder: Um, I know that you have, you're down 22 deputies that you have lost through attrition in the last 10 months.

Carpenter: Right.

Kidder: And you've lost three in what, the last month?

Carpenter: It's been hard to keep track, to be honest with you, Dan. Uh, but yeah, we've, we've lost 22 deputies, uh, over the course of the last 10 months. And in fairness, uh, some of those have been to retirement and some have been, uh, people that we've hired that, that just quite frankly, couldn't make it through either the post or the field training, uh, uh, portion of it before they, they resigned. But a lot of it has been due to, uh, wages and uh, and it's not by any fault of the county commission. Uh, last, last July, the county commission gave the Sheriff's office a 10% pay increase, but the problem was, was in that same period of time, uh, Cedar PD, Enoch PD, uh, you know, raised their wages substantially since that time, the state legislature gave $159 million to highway patrol and another $159 million to Utah department of corrections, which put those two state agencies in, in direct competition for our personnel.

Kidder: Well, not only that, but in that same period of time, I know that the federal government likes to use a 7.9% inflation rate, but that's not a real inflation rate. The actual inflation rate is about 12%, right. And so a 10% raise, just got eaten up and higher gas prices and the gallon of milk and rent and everything else. So, um, but so the county commission on Tuesday and it really, it, a lot of people are here gonna hear the, the Sheriff's office got raise and that's not what actually happened. So they, they put in this step in grade program that we'd had before, but the commission back in what, 2008,

Dotson: think it was 2008.

Kidder: eliminated it correct. And so this applies to all county employees. They've, re-put this step in grade in place, and they've adjusted that for COLA and cost of living adjustments. And, but deputies for retention and recruitment get bumped up a step or a grade, right?

Carpenter: So, you know, everybody, depending on what their job is, has a different starting point in that step, uh, in that step increase, uh, program. And for our, our starting deputies now would start at a step 10, which is, you know, good news for us, uh, that, that, uh, helps us to become at least competitive with the other agencies within the county so that we can at least now compete with Cedar PD and any PD and right. And maybe Parowan PD .

Kidder: But it's still, you're still an uphill climb against, you know, Draper and,

and other cities and even other states. I know that, uh, you know, it's funny, it's kind of like the opposite side. Now we're getting the pendulum swing back from the whole defund, the police movement. When, when, Hey, we got our wish, we defunded the police, and amazingly crime went up. I don't know why that would be causation and correlation. Um, so we're, we're seeing the flip side of that. Now we need to, there's a, there's a rush on to hire more police officers and, and some of the comments I've heard not, I'll be fair. I have not actually heard anybody make these comments, but I have heard that others have heard. So I guess in court of law, that'd be hearsay evidence, right? But this isn't a court of law, but one of the comments that I had heard that somebody had made was we don't need deputies. I can defend my own home. And I'm just like, that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard because are you gonna go out there and drag a lake in Newcastle reservoir when a teenager goes overboard in his is kayak, are you gonna be out there to assist that, that, you know, mother of two on the side of the road, when she breaks down out there, uh, between Beyrl and, and Enterprise someplace, I mean, you know, that's just an utterly stupid comment without our deputies, uh, doing all of the many jobs they do. You know, they're not just in fact, I, I think in the amount of time that I've lived here, 16 years, I've been in Iron County, I've been pulled over by a deputy one time traffic. Enforcement's not like your big thing, right?

Carpenter: No, no. You know, we, we do have a couple of deputies that are dedicated to traffic enforcement because you know, public safety is obviously a key concern. And when you look at U DOT's numbers of the amount of traffic that not only our freeway, but our state highways, uh, Carrie, you know, we need to, to make sure that we do enforce traffic laws in order to keep people safe. And that's what it's about. It's about safety.

Kidder: Um, and a lot of that's DUI enforcement, doesn't it?

Carpenter: Well there's, there certainly is a large part of it that is the DUI enforcement, but you know, a lot of it's just care driving, you know, texting, texting, and driving, uh, you know, excessive speed. Uh, just things that, you know, were last year was really, really kind of a, a difficult year for us out on highway 56 and out in the bur area we had...

Kidder: well, there were, there were several fatalities there on 56.

Carpenter: several fatality accidents. And a lot of times it's just speed, you know, speed and inattention to driving. You know, the fact of the matter is the speed kills. The faster you go, the less attention, the less reaction time you have, you know, it doesn't take

much to, to end up, you know, wrapped around a tree.

Kidder: Yeah. Well, this entire package is gonna cost the county an additional $1 million for the rest of this year,and then $2.2 million each year thereafter for the entire year. Um, and, and there will be adjustments as the, the, you know, inflation rate goes up and, and I think they're gonna tie that to the social security administration COLAs. Um, but, and talking to Dan, Dan,

Jessen, the county treasurer {correction: Auditor}, he's been putting money aside every year that has been left over in different funds, um, for the new jail. Carpenter: Correct. Kidder: And so we were in very good position to be able to afford the new jail, which we're gonna talk about why we need the new jail. That's not a question. We, we definitely do need a new jail.

Dotson: Um, and can I butt in for a second?

Kidder: Yeah.

Dotson: One thing I think we need to, to start right now, and I've talked to Ken about, this is we're not gonna, it's not a jail, it's the Sheriff's office, sorry, banged the table. It's the Sheriff's office, which includes the correctional facility, the jail. So I think people need to understand that this isn't just gonna be a standalone jail. This is the Sheriff's office where the Sheriff's office is and is deputies. And I think that's, that's,

Kidder: it's a whole criminal justice complex, right?

Dotson: Yeah. Yes, we it's. We can't just isolate that this is not just a jail. This is an important and critical function for the county that we are really in need of, but sorry.

Kidder: No, you're fine. Interrupt, you know, that's, that's actually a good point, but I think the, as we talk about this, the real, the real focus is that the, the correctional side of the house is overcrowded. It's falling apart, correct. Uh, to an extent, I don't think most people are even aware, uh, how dilapidated and how overcrowded that is. Give us some examples of, of how overcrowded you are right now.

Carpenter: Well, to give you example, uh, you know, technically we have about 264 bed spaces, but because of environmental design and because of classification of inmates and things of that nature, it's impossible for us to be able to use every bed space in the, in the current facility. So when that, that reduces our actual bed numbers to about 184, and here the last several months, we've been running about 177 inmates. Sometimes we've been up over 184. We we've been to the point where we had to turn warrants away because we had no place to put 'em.

Kidder: And when a judge sends you an inmate and you have to house that inmate, um, somebody more dangerous gets arrested. You don't, you don't have the, you know, the, the authority unilaterally to say, well, we're gonna let Joe go over here. A judge sent him there, he's gotta stay there.

Carpenter: Right.

Kidder: So you gotta find some place for this other person.

Carpenter: either that, or, or get in touch with the court and say, Hey, can we release this guy? Because we've got this guy, you know, we, we have this guy that committed into felony and, and this guy that's on the class, a misdemeanor, you know, which one do we hold?

Kidder: Can we use the, the two cells in your office?

Dotson: <laugh> yeah, <laugh>, they're usually open unless something's happened that we don't know about.

Kidder: I was laying in there the other day.

Dotson: But yeah, they, uh, there, there is public safety implications with the need for the new correctional facility, because there was an article recently, um, St. George news, Washington county jail had to turn somebody away because of bed space. And then that person went and committed a, a violent felony. And we don't wanna see that happen. We don't wanna have to make those decisions. We wanna make sure that we can protect our community. And that's, I think why the new Sheriff's office and correctional facility is, is so important.

Kidder: Well, and there's some civil rights implications too, you know, if, if somebody gets hurt in your jail, because it's overcrowded, we're just looking for a lawsuit at that point.

Carpenter: Right, right, right. You know, and it gets to the point that if you don't take, uh, action of our own accord, then you can end up getting, you know, an injunction put against the county.

Kidder: Somebody will take action for you.

Carpenter: Right.

Kidder: Yeah.

Carpenter: And you know, there's, there's been counties in the past. Uh, I think Pinal county, if I remember correctly in Arizona was under indictment to build a new jail here a few years back, you know, so it does happen, you know, and it's, that's something that we, we also don't want is that we don't need to have a court ordering us to build a new facility. It's a requirement that's put upon the sheriff by state law to have a jail and, and to perform the functions associated with that jail. It's a state requirement. We have to comply with that.

Kidder: And there's also a federal, uh, uh,federal, um, element of that, cuz you, you do house some federal inmates and you work with the Marshall's office and...

Carpenter: we, we do. And, and you know, that's, we have some contract inmates right now. Our contract inmates are very, very slim because of the housing. Uh, but we, we house, I think right now our numbers are like seven or eight state inmates and about 33 federal inmates. Uh, but one of the things that's important for people to understand is those inmates are here on programs. So they're working in our laundry and in our culinary.

Kidder: So there's actually a net positive financial gain, right. To having those inmates.

Carpenter: Well, generally speaking, we've made about one and a half million dollars a year. That goes back into the general budget, uh, by housing, some federal and state inmates. But more importantly to us is the work that we get from them in providing culinary services, in order to feed all the other inmates that are in the jail and to provide the laundry services for all the other inmates that are in the jail. That if, if we weren't able to use those, those, uh, those inmates, we would have to hire that out as high paying jobs out into the civilian community, which, you know, would cost us millions of dollars every year.

Kidder: You know, I like that. I, I, I knew a Georgia sheriff; now Georgia's a different world when it comes to criminal justice and in law and order down there, but there was a sheriff down there and he took us on a tour of the new courthouse facility that was completely 100% built by inmates of his jail. They laid every brick and did all the plumbing and electrical work. And they actually had, uh, you know, uh, technical, uh, trade school instructors come and teach these guys how to do these skills. And then they built their own jail afterward. And so, you know, maybe, maybe that's a route we to look at is out there in the hot sun, building the jail, learn and trade, learn trade at the same time. That's right. I love it. So Chad, you have been involved with some, some pretty heady, uh, cases lately. There's been some pretty bad dudes that you've put behind bars for, for quite a long time lately.

Dotson: Yeah, no, we've, we've been busy. And, and part of that is with, uh, the backlog with Covid, the court and jury trials were not going forward. So now we're getting caught up. Um, but we had one, an individual named George Holland that was convicted this week and sentenced to prison for attempted rape up a canyon trail. Um, very scary situation. It's kind of one of those worst case scenarios that you think about when your wife or daughter goes for a hike. Um, but that was a good outcome. Um, we've had several jury trials, a cold case rape case from 2003.

Kidder: And that was a rape kit case.

Dotson: Yeah. The, the initiative, this, the sake initiative, sexual assault kit initiative.

Kidder: So I'm actually friends with Debbie Smith.

Dotson: Oh really?

Kidder: And she told me the story in her living room of, of her story. She, she is the founder of an organization called HEART, Help Exists After Rape Trauma. Um, and she was brutally raped. She was taken from her home and, and brutally raped. Her husband, a police officer was asleep upstairs.

Dotson: Oh.

Kidder: And because of her efforts, uh, there is something called Debbie's law. And that was a federal initiative that was passed that made funding available to different states and communities to go and test this backlog of rape kits. And so I love seeing that we've actually gotten, in fact, I need to call her and tell her that, you know, there was a, a conviction based on one of those rape kits from that backlog that's freaking phenomenal.

Dotson: It was, it was, uh, it was a great case to be a part of and to be able to see that that initiative work and, and hold somebody accountable who needed, who was a bad guy needed to go to prison, hopefully stays there for a long time.

Kidder: So people don't, I don't know, a lot of people understand the way, um, sentencing works in Utah.

Dotson: It's a little different than, than most places we have indeterminate sentencing. So, um, sometimes it's not as predictable. I can't ever know for certain, somebody's convicted of a second degree felony, if they will serve one, which is the minimum or 15, the board of pardons ultimately decides if somebody, uh, what they will serve of that, that indeterminate sentence, same thing with a rape. It's a five year to life, sentence, minimum, five years up to life. Um, and on and on. So the board of pardons have a lot of discretion in the state of Utah.

Kidder: Do people typically when there's a, a five year minimum, do they, they typically spend that five years or do they typically get out earlier?

Dotson: I believe that they serve the, the minimum, but sometimes that's it. So I think some people think somebody will serve a lot longer cuz there's that “to life” language. But, um, it depends on their history, um, the facts and circumstance, but the, the board of pardons evaluates that there is a score matrix that's produced by adult probation, parole for the department of corrections and that, that all factors in. But uh, not always, not always, uh, thrilled with, with how quick some people get out. Cause a third degree found an aggravated assault. For example, you strangle somebody, you point a gun at somebody it's a zero to five. So if you're sentenced to prison on a zero to five, you could be out.

Kidder: You may not even go to prison.

Dotson: Yeah. Zero, you may not go, yeah, you may not go to prison. You may get sentenced to a term of probation. If you are sentenced to a prison sentence, you could be out in months and we have no control over that.

Kidder: Yeah. I, I talk to a lot of people and they go, oh, he got 30 years. That means he's gonna be in prison for 30 years. So, um, but you have, you know, they're off the street and that's, that's a big thing. And what does your caseload look like right now? Is it, is it higher, lower about the same?

Dotson: We've been, um, fairly steady over the years, but we've seen it 2020 again was an unprecedented year. We had a lot more cases. Um, but things are kind of evening out. We usually have about 1300 cases a year. Um, of course we are responsible for the justice court, the juvenile court and um, district court cases.

Kidder: Um, and you've, you've seen an uptick since COVID in domestic violence cases.

Dotson: We did, there was, there was an uptick in domestic violence and assaults of course, homicides that year was, uh, unprecedented. Um, and that was nationwide. I think there was a lot of data that...

Kidder: just more people stuck at home with their families.

Dotson: And one of those unforeseen circumstances from the policies.

Kidder: Well, everybody is essential and we should treat everybody as if they're essential.

Dotson: Right.

Kidder: You know, to say that some people are more essential than others. That's, that's kind of problematic right there. Um, yeah. So what's going on, what's coming up in the future for Iron County that people should be aware of. What are some, some things to be looking for? You mentioned that 1% of the, the, the population is, is criminal in nature. And, and as we're seeing, we may be at what, 60,000 residents here pretty soon, right?

Carpenter: Yeah.

Dotson: I think people should be optimistic. I think we still live in a great safe community. I think Iron County's still a wonderful place to live. Um, it's obviously changing from, since I've been here, there's a lot more people and I think with growth comes different challenges and I think crime, uh, will be something that, uh, that we'll see more of. Uh, but, uh, I don't think it's gonna be, um, something we can't manage and something that will I'm, I'm committed to not allow it to affect the quality of life. That's something that I know the sheriff and I care deeply about and, and all the law enforcement professionals in the county.

Carpenter: One of the things that I think is important is, is being able to keep up with the growth. Uh, you know, as, as the growth happens in the unincorporated areas of the county, then we need to increase the number of deputies to be able to respond to those calls for service. The more importantly is we want to always be able to, to be a proactive law enforcement agency and not just strictly a reactive law enforcement agency. I remember several years ago when I was, uh, going to post, we had the, the, uh, west valley city police chief came and talked to us. And at that particular time, his officers were checking on duty 45 calls down. So they were 45 calls behind.

Kidder: Wow.

Carpenter: When they checked on duty, you know, we never want to be like that. We always want to be, or we're able to respond right away, uh, to especially those calls that are, are most demanding and be able to keep caught up. But we also wanna be able to do proactive patrol. We want to be out, uh, being seen. We want to be a part of the community and be able to continue to maintain, you know, the great relationships that we have with our communities so that we can maintain that trust and that confidence, uh, that we, that we currently enjoy.

Kidder: So there's a political candidate who has made a, a comment that I want you to clear up for me. Uh, the comment is that there are only two deputies on duty at any given time. What, what is the truth with that?

Carpenter: That's incorrect. There's what, what we have is we have two sections of deputies that work patrol. And so one, one section is working. The other section is off the section that is working, that crew is divided up throughout a 24 hour period. And so you have de different deputies checking on throughout that 24 hour period. And the way it's designed is that at peak times there's going to be hours of overlap so that there may be times when you have, you know, five to seven deputies on, but there's gonna be times where there's less volume where there may be fewer deputies on, well, at the, at the quietest time of the county, which is after two o'clock in the morning, then there are only two deputies on, but it's only for, you know, just a few hours before deputies start checking back on again. And, uh, so that's, that's really a misrepresentation of whether...

Kidder: And, and is there a reserve anywhere if, if you know some guys at the station that if somebody gets in trouble and calls for help, but they, you also get help from other municipalities…

Carpenter: We always right, we always back each other up and, and take care of each other. So let me just give you, give you an example here, if I can find it, uh, gimme just one second, I guess.

Kidder: All right.

Carpenter: I'm not finding it <laugh>,

Kidder: but, but give us an idea.

Dotson: So basically Rush would be doing this with the papers right now.

Carpenter: <laugh> so, so basically back in, in March, the Sheriff's office had done about 40, uh, uh, cases where we had backed up other law enforcement agencies as of June, we've done about 140 of those.

Kidder: Oh, wow.

Carpenter: So, you know, what that represents is that, you know, Parowan Enoch, even Cedar City highway patrol, where they, they don't always have many officers on themselves in those, in those, uh, critical hours, you know, then our deputies are going out and backing them up. And in making sure that they're being able to, to perform their functions and their duties and be able to keep safe. And the same thing happens with us. If we have a critical incident during that period of time, then other agencies are going to come help back us up as well. And that's one of the things that's great about this Iron County community is that, you know, there's no rice bowls, we're not protecting our own little rice bowls, right. Instead we're, we're looking out after each other and, and taking care of one another, cuz we're, you know, we're all in this together. They're our friends are...

Kidder: Well on the other side, you got about 30% of the population at any given point that is armed and, and willing to back you up as well.

Carpenter: Right. That's also true.

Kidder: I'm one of them.

Carpenter: <laugh> no doubt. And we speak a lot about that as well about the importance of, yeah…

Kidder: Yeah, I've gone to a couple of talks that you've given to the community, I think was one last year and one just a couple weeks ago. And, and you talked very strongly about protecting the second amendment and, and the rights of the citizens to carry arms and right.

Carpenter: And it's, it's important. It's like I tell people on a frequent basis, you know, one of the things I love about concealed carry is that the person that carries concealed may be the person that comes to my, my rescue when I need help. And, uh, you know, I think that there's a certain amount of, of security of our community by being a second amendment type of account.

Kidder: Tell, tell somebody, listening, you know, there's a wrong way to come to your aid and, and tell somebody, listening what would be the best way <laugh> for, if you're in trouble and somebody wants to offer help, how to do that. Carpenter: Yeah. You know, it, it's all about communication. It's all about talking and letting, letting everybody know, you know, what our, our, uh, what's going on, you know? And, and sometimes it just kind of happens. I mean, if you, if you see a deputy and a suspect rolling around on the side of the road, fighting each other and, and somebody jumps out of their car and comes over and helps boy, that, that helps going to be greatly appreciated in that, in that moment of need. Uh, you know, but if it's a traffic stop and, and deputy is, has his, his gun drawn, you know, you wanna be pretty careful about how you approach because he doesn't know who's coming up behind him.

Kidder: Yeah. I, I remember there was a video out a couple years ago. I think it was outta Arizona. There was a deputy rolling around on the ground, fighting over his gun.

Carpenter: Right.

Kidder: And a concealed carrier came up and was pointing the gun at him. And, and the deputy was yelling, shoot him, shoot him, shoot him. <laugh> cause he was losing grip of that gun. Good. You know it, uh, so yeah, you just don't know though, right. You don't know when somebody's rolling up. That could be his buddy. That could be his brother. You don't know, we don't know his...

Dotson: Gotta make your intentions.

Kidder: Yeah. You know, and, and don't lie about it. What are some other advice, you know, as we get more people into the area and we get people from outside of, of the area that maybe have different values than we do, what would be some good advice, uh, you know, obviously lock your doors, lock your car doors, don't leave valuables in your car, but what's, what's some, we've had a lot of internet scams lately. You know, the, I guess the Sheriff's department's calling people and telling 'em to buy Target gift cards, to keep from going to jail or something like that.

Carpenter: <laugh> yeah. That, you know, and that's one of the things that we always try to remind people is that never happens, never happens. We do not ever call anybody and say, go buy a Amazon gift card to, you know, keep from going to jail. You know, there's a very specific, uh, way that we serve, uh, papers and it's in person and we don't do it over the phone.

Kidder: And, uh, usually you get a free taxi ride with that, don't you?

Carpenter: Well, a lot of times, you know, and, but that's one of the things that, you know, I, I just tell people is, is if it sounds funny to you at all, please call us, just hang up the phone and call us. We'll be happy to answer the question. You know, I, I think back several years ago, my mom got fleeced out of $2,000 where, uh, somebody called her and said that my son, her grandson was in jail in Oregon for a DUI and that he was embarrassed and didn't want to call me and tell me. And, uh, so my mom sent, uh, wired $2,000 to this person. And when she went into Western Union, she had four different people at Western Union tell her, this is a scam. Do not do this. And yet she did it anyway,

Kidder: because she cared so much about her grandson.

Carpenter: so much about her grandson. And it was like, I told her, I said, mom, you have a son. That's a police chief and a son, that's a sheriff. Why did you not call one of us? You know? And well, you know, he was embarrassed. I was like, it wasn't him. And, uh, you know, and, and then to my, my son's point, you know, he was, he felt heartbroken that his grandmother believed that he would've gone off and got drunk and drove intoxicated, whichever.

Kidder: But that's an important distinction, right? I mean, good people sometimes make mistakes.

Dotson: Sure.

Kidder: And, and those mistakes sometimes land them on the wrong side of your office and your office.

Carpenter: Absolutely.

Kidder: And, you know, yeah. There's really bad people out there. There's people who do really bad things, robbery, you know, the, the normal stuff that we think about rape robbery, you know, burglary property crimes. But I mean, have you guys seen an increase in DUIs since we went to the 0.05?

Dotson: We, I really see we've had a few, but really it's not a, there's probably on one hand that I can recall that are actually under a 0.08 ,so that would've not been a DUI had the law changed. Kidder: Right. Dotson: So it really, hasn't been a, a large increase under that, that, uh, breath, um, level. So, to answer the question. Yeah, no, yeah.

Carpenter: And, and one of the things that you have to keep in mind is that even though the, the level may 0.05 ,you still have to prove that they're impaired.

Kidder: Right.

Carpenter: And if you can't show impairment through standardized field sobriety tests.

Kidder: So the 0.05 gives you probable cause to bring them in, to conduct the investigation, right?

Carpenter: That they're in their impairment, but well, and that's, that's really the breath test. It's you don't bring them in on that because you don't know what that is. Uh, when you, what it's about is the impairment. So if the field sobriety test, right, if we're, if we're driving down the road and we see a driving pattern that would indicate that there's a problem, and we conduct a traffic stop, we detect the odor of alcohol. We bring them out of the vehicle, performs standardized field sobriety, they fail standardized field sobriety. That's your probable cause. Now if you take 'em back and put 'em on the intoxilyzer, and they say, they blow a 0.05 ,the 0.05 now is the legal limit. And you're able to charge them with DUI, but it's based upon their inability to safely operate the motor vehicle based upon the probable cause of the driving pattern and their standardized field sobriety tests.

Kidder: And so that's all information that your office looks at and the attorney's office looks at is that in investigative information and you make a decision at that point, whether or not to, to prosecute, or is it pretty much a done deal if they're gonna get brought in, they're gonna get prosecuted.

Dotson: If, if they've been arrested and we can, uh, prove each element of the crime. And so we can either go on the impairment prong, or we can go on the BAC prong. And a lot of times we have to go impairment. If it's a drug DUI, cuz there's, we don't have a major...

Kidder: Right.

Dotson: Um, but you can, you can prove on either prong, I guess either theory either there's too impaired to drive or they meet the per se uh, BAC, which is now 0.05 .Um, but yeah, no, we we're pretty strict on, on DUIs. And um, and I think that's an important, that's an important, uh, area of enforcement for public safety.

Kidder: Fantastic. Gentlemen, I both appreciate you coming in. There's so many more things we could talk about. We should do this again.

Dotson: Um, we'll grab Bunissa's.

Kidder: that's right. We got Bunissa's right here. This is not sponsored by Bunissa's, but I do eat there four times or five times a week. <laugh> that's right next to my studio here. Well, we've been here with Chad Datson, our Iron County attorney and Ken Carpenter, our Iron County, sheriff, gentlemen, I thank you both for coming here. And I thank you both for the service that you bring to our community and the sense of wellbeing I have living in a safe community. Thank you both for that.

Dotson: Well, thank you, your Patriot and an asset to the community.

Kidder: Thank you.

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