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AG Reyes on POTUS’ Executive Order

 
UTAH AG ISSUES STATEMENT ON THE PRESIDENT’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON IMMIGRATION 
 Reyes calls on Congress to act quickly to close loopholes
 

SALT LAKE CITY – This afternoon, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement in support of President Trump’s Executive Order Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation:

I applaud President Trump’s executive order stopping family separations at the border. No one wants to see children separated from their parents. It has been obvious for decades and under multiple administrations that our immigration system is flawed. Legal loopholes not only impede moral and pragmatic relocation and residence of families, but also fuel the human trafficking scourge among many vulnerable populations and ages. Congress needs to come together, setting aside partisan differences, to close these loopholes immediately and fix the problem.

I was born into a family with an immigrant father. I understand the immigration quandary from both a personal and legal perspective. My father risked his life to stand up to a dictatorial regime in his country and barely escaped by coming to the United States. He ultimately achieved his U.S. citizenship, one of the greatest days of his life. As we debate immigration policy, we must remember the real victims of today’s broken system and the consequences if Congress fails to fix the law. Again, I call on Congress to close the loopholes and get immigration right.

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AGO & DEA Announce Utah Take Back Program

DEA AND AGO ANNOUNCE NATIONAL PRESCRIPTION DRUG TAKE BACK EVENT

 SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announce Utah Take Back, a day set aside to help rid homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs. The two offices encourage Utahns to participate in this year’s Take Back day on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at convenient locations across the state.

“Prescription drug abuse and deaths related to opioids have risen to epidemic levels in Utah and across the country. Opioid addiction has ravaged rural and urban areas as well as uptown and downtown neighborhoods. It has taken far too many lives and ruined countless more. Those who suffer from addiction may be soccer moms or executives. They can be star athletes, high achieving students, popular kids or “loners.” They are our kids, grandkids, and kids from the block.  And whether we realize it or not, our medicine cabinets might be the very place where they are looking or have already been for their next high or pill party,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.” In 2016, over 64,000 Americans died from drug overdose rates, which is on average 90 people a day. Utah has the 7th highest drug overdose rate in the United States, losing over 10 people a week. Since 2000, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has increased 400%. Last year, Utah collected over 33,000 pounds of prescription drugs to dispose of properly and the aim this year is to collect more.

DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser stated,

“In a coordinated response to the national heroin and opioid crisis, DEA is working aggressively with our federal, state, and local partners to address America’s prescription pill and heroin abuse problem.  Recently, DEA has implemented a 360 Strategy within the State of Utah to address this public health crisis, and the National Drug Takeback Initiative is a key component of that strategy.  Please partner with the DEA and the Utah Attorney General’s Office in taking determined steps to collect your un-used, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs so that they can be properly disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.  Help keep Utah drug safe!”

In addition to contributing to addictions and overdoses, improper disposal of unused and expired medications leads to damage to our environment. Medications that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies. Measurable amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants, and medications have all been found in U.S. lakes and rivers. Wastewater treatment and septic systems are unable to remove most medicines, which are a special type of hazardous chemical unsafe for solid waste systems and landfills. Drugs can be very toxic to people and wildlife, even in low doses. 

The Take Back service, provided through the partnership of the AGO, DEA, Department of Health, Utah National Guard, and Prevention Resource Centers, is free of charge and anonymous. Not only is it an effort to get the public to dispose of medications, but also to educate as many people as possible about the dangers prescriptions medications can pose.  The following items are returnable: prescription medicines; over the counter medicines; vitamins; pet medicines; medicated ointments and lotions; inhalers; liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces); and medicine samples.

For more information about the April 28th Take Back and to find a collection site, visit www.utahtakeback.org.

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AG Speaks on Passing of Sam Granato

Tonight, Attorney General Sean Reyes shared the following upon hearing of the passing of Salt Lake City Councilman Sam Granato: 

“I’m so saddened to hear of Sam’s passing. He was not just a friend, but a mentor and like a big brother. It didn’t matter who you were; Sam treated you with respect and class. He certainly lived up to the high expectations of his family name in business, public service, and in life.”


AGO Honors Victims of Crime in April


Annually, the nation recognizes one week in April to promote the rights of crime victims. After participating this month in numerous victim support activities statewide, the Utah Office of the Attorney General issues the following statement from Attorney General Sean D. Reyes to encourage year-long recognition of crime victims and their families:


The Utah AGO has always made it a priority to protect Utahns from criminal conduct in all its forms. Over the years, our office has grown in its victim-centric model as we strive to ensure that victims know what rights and services are available to them even at the earliest stages of investigation and prosecution. Survivors who feel validated are more willing to open up about their trauma and more likely to seek needed assistance. They are also more likely to trust the justice process and help in bringing criminals to justice. 

 

Victims of crime are often our most vulnerable members of society. We take pride in our work, from the AG victim service professionals to prosecutors, Children’s Justice Center staff, law enforcement agents and medical health providers, to reach all victims, regardless of race, gender, religion, orientation or status. We believe this approach empowers victims to take control of their healing as well as provide hope and direction to others who have experienced or may yet suffer similar victimization.

  

While victim recognition one week in one month of the year is better than nothing, how much better would our world be if we remembered victims and their families year-round. In our office, we will continue to serve and protect those hurt by crime. We express our sincere gratitude to other first responders, medical partners and all those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve victims in Utah. We hope continued collaboration with strategic partners and members of the community will help us continue to improve our statewide victim response which will in turn provide an open road to assistance, justice, healing and peace.

 

Earlier in July, we had Open Houses across the state to highlight the important work Children’s Justice Centers provide. We are grateful for those who give their time daily to support and care for victims of abuse.  

 


AGO Charges UHP Trooper with Arson

 
FORMER UTAH HIGHWAY PATROL TROOPER SENTENCED FOR MAESER HIGHWAY FIRE
 
UINTAH COUNTY, Utah – The Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) announced today that defendant Rex Richard Olsen, a former Utah Highway Patrol Trooper, was sentenced on April 17, 2018 for Second Degree Felony Arson. The charges filed against him were for deliberately starting a fire on or about June 9, 2017 in the wildlands area off the shoulder of Maeser Highway.  At the time he set the fire, the defendant was on duty as a UHP Trooper. The charges came after an investigation by the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. The defendant entered a guilty plea on November 14, 2017. The defendant was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 1-15 years in the Utah State Prison, Probation to Adult Probation and Parole for 36 months, and to serve 180 days in the Uintah County Jail. A restitution hearing is currently set for June 27, 2018 in the 8th District Court in Vernal.  The State is requesting a restitution order in the amount of $482,392.76 for the damage caused to property and land, including the cost of response to and suppressing the fire.
 
The defendant is also set for sentencing in the Federal District Court on June 7, 2017, for starting a separate but similar fire on BLM land located in Uintah County.  On January 25, 2018, the defendant pled guilty to one count of Underbrush and Grass Set Afire, a Class D Felony, in the United States District Court for Utah.

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Senators Rubio and Nelson Host National School Safety Forum

FLORIDA SENATORS RUBIO AND NELSON HOST NATIONAL SCHOOL SAFETY FORUM
AG Reyes and Utah Senator Thatcher to Take Part

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  On Wednesday, April 18th, U.S. Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Nelson (D-FL) hosted a forum of experts and leaders, including Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, to discuss school safety around the nation. The purpose of the forum was to share ideas and understand best practices on school safety and to provide officials with new ideas they can take back to their agency or community to implement.

The forum comes on the heels of the deadly shooting in Parkland, FL at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool. Various government officials, families impacted by the Parkland shooting, as well as experts and leaders gathered to discuss intervention and prevention of school gun violence. One particular focus was the use of technology in school security, which would include the SafeUT App out of Utah.

AG Reyes stated the following during the forum:

“We’re beneficiaries of a systematic environment, an ecosystem if you would, of trust, of safety, ofresources and collaboration that has direct application to the school safety challenge that we’re about today. The evidence is this: over the last 7 months 104 reported planned school attacks or threats in Utah were intercepted or thwarted because of this program and collaboration.”

Senator Daniel Thatcher, Representative Steve Eliason, and Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute Executive Director Ross Van Vranken were also on hand to give comments.

The SafeUT app has been getting national attention for its effectiveness in curbing school violence. Originally developed in partnership between AG Reyes and Senator Thatcher to curb teen suicide, SafeUT has morphed into a place where students can share concerns and provide tips about potential student attacks. 

Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty whose life was lost in the attack, played a main role in  advocating for SafeUT to come to Florida. Petty visited Utah at the end of March with his family to be present when the Utah Legislature passed HCR22 designating April as #MSDkindness Month to honor all those who were lost on Feb 14th in Florida.

You can watch the entire forum here: Politico: Sens. Rubio, Nelson Host Gun Violence Prevention Forum
Attorney General Sean Reyes starts right after the 1:00 hour mark. 

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AG Reyes Speaks on Veto Override

UTAH AG’S OFFICE RELEASES STATEMENT ON VETO OVERRIDE

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Utah Legislature met to override Governor Herbert’s veto of SB 171, despite significant concerns. Following the vote, Attorney General Sean Reyes made the following statement:

We believe in a carefully balanced democratic system of government where the legislature enacts laws, the executive branch enforces them, and courts interpret them. When one branch upsets that equilibrium, it threatens the harmony and integrity of the whole and erodes public confidence in the institutions.

The legislature heard several serious concerns about SB171 during the legislative session and ultimately the executive branch voiced its strongest opposition possible when the Governor exercised his veto power. In turn, a supermajority of the legislature has chosen, as is its prerogative, to go forward with this new law. If SB 171 is challenged, the courts will have their important role to play in deciding whether the law will stand or be rejected. We respect the role of all branches and have faith in the long-term results of our system of checks and balances.

In the Office of the Utah Attorney General, we will continue to do our duty and defend state laws, unless and until there is a decision from the courts requiring us to do otherwise.

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AG Reyes Statement on the Passing of Barbara Bush

This evening, Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement regarding the passing of Barbara Bush, wife of President George H.W. Bush and mother of President George W. Bush: 

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Barbara Bush – a larger than life political figure and the matriarch of the Bush family. She was a fierce advocate and a graceful public servant at the same time. Her commitment to her husband of over 70 years is, in and of itself, a testament of her character and devotion to her deep family values. 

“Mrs. Bush’s legacy cannot be overlooked and her selfless dedication to improve our nation is woven into the history of our country. One of the first to join the front lines of the civil rights movement, she was not shy about sharing her opinions and beliefs surrounding tough issues of the times. Most notably, she poured her heart into fighting illiteracy and homelessness, believing that the two went hand in hand. 

“Mrs. Bush was a remarkable individual and a great American. She showed us how to live a full life, committed to issues, but above all putting family first. Her influence will be greatly missed.”


AG Reyes & Olympic Gold Medalist Encourage Teens to Say “No”

UTAH AG AND OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST ENCOURAGE TEENS TO SAY ‘NO’ TO ALCOHOL
AG Reyes and Summer Sanders Film Anti-Underage Drinking PSA for Alcohol Responsibility Month

SALT LAKE CITY – Kicking off an April-long observance of “Alcohol Responsibility Month,” Attorney General Reyes, Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility teamed up to release a public service announcement (PSA) to prevent underage drinking. In the PSA, through the Foundation’s Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program, AG Reyes and Sanders encourage parents to have conversations with their kids and teens about saying “no” to underage drinking. 

AG Reyes commented on the importance of this topic:

“As a parent of six, I know how hard it can be to have these conversations both from a time and comfort perspective. But underage drinking is a reality our children face regularly. The influence our conversations have on our children are impactful whether or not we realize it or they acknowledge it. When we have real conversations about the effects of underage drinking, we show our children they are strong enough to make the hard and often unpopular choice when confronted by peer pressure. I am proud to partner with Responsibility.org as they resource parents with ways to address underage drinking. Together we can profoundly impact the lives and futures of our children in addition to increasing their safety and the safety of those around us.”

Sanders, who won two gold medals, one silver and bronze in the 1992 Olympic swimming competition agreed, stating:

“I’m thrilled to be a part of Ask, Listen, Learn team. As an Olympian and a mother of two, I’m keenly aware of how important it is to make the right choices, be a positive role model, and have meaningful conversations with my kids. I hope these PSAs will remind parents that they are the biggest influence in their kids’ decision to drink—or not to drink—alcohol and just how important it is to talk to them about underage drinking.”

AG Reyes encourages parents to talk with kids about alcohol because talking to teens about how drinking is unhealthy and negatively impacts their developing brains has shown to be effective. From 2003 to 2016, conversations between kids and their parents increased 73 percent. Since the inception of Ask, Listen, Learn, underage drinking has decreased 40 percent, according to the 2017 Monitoring the Future study. While this is a major improvement—underage drinking is at a record low—there is still work to be done. The PSA will begin airing this month.

“It was truly a pleasure working with Summer Sanders and so many of our country’s attorneys general in our longstanding joint effort to combat underage drinking,” said Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of Responsibility.org. “There is no better time than April—Alcohol Responsibility Month—to jumpstart conversations about making smart choices. We hope these PSAs will encourage parents to start the conversation about alcohol responsibility early, and continue it often, with their kids.”

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NOTES:

  1. You can watch the PSA here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17zU_LUwFs4.
  2. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is a national not-for-profit that leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Edrington; Mast-Jägermeister US; and Pernod Ricard USA. To learn more, please visit responsibility.org.
  3. You can find the entire Monitoring the Future study here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/mtf-overview2017.pdf.

April is #MSDKindness Month

In March of this year, the Utah Legislature passed HCR22 designating April as #MSDKindness Month to honor the lives that were lost in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, FL on February 14th. The hope is this would encourage Utahns across that state to perform small, random acts of kindness. Kindness goes a long way – a word, a smile, or a touch – can change the trajectory of someone’s day. Those small acts compounded over time can provide hope where there is hopelessness. 

The Office of the Attorney General invites you to participate in doing small acts of kindness throughout the entire month of April and let us know how it goes! As we hear about the small acts, we’ll be able to shine a light on acts of service, love, and kindness done while we honor those who’ve lost their lives and their families they left behind. 

You can report an act of kindness performed in a few ways:

  1. If you are a student or a parent of a student, download the SafeUT app. Submit a tip, select your school, and choose Kindness to share what you’ve done or what you’ve seen. 
  2. If you are not connected to a local school, send a DM (direct message) through Facebook or Twitter letting us know what you’ve done or seen. 

We’ll be highlighting these acts throughout the month. In this, we hope to create a wave of kindness that covers the state. 


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