OGDEN — Thus far, Ogden police and some city leaders have by and large expressed satisfaction with the city’s police operations, even as calls for police reform echo in many cities across the country.
That’s not stopping Malik Dayo and others who have been banging the drum for change — both before the death of George Floyd and now as debate on the issue simmers across the country in response to that incident.
“We’re going to continue forward with what we’ve been doing already,” Dayo said.
If anything, he said assertions by authorities here that the Ogden Police Department is largely compliant with the so-called 8 Can’t Wait police reform proposals have spurred the group on. The 8 Can’t Wait was drawn up by Campaign Zero, a nonprofit group pushing for change to reduce killings by police.
Dayo is helping organize a rally outside the Ogden Police Department building set for Saturday, the third event in Ogden related to police reform since a May 30 demonstration called in response to the death of Floyd. And Dayo said he plans to keep up the demonstrating until Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt retires — or otherwise leaves office — and city leaders replace him with a more “progressive” department head.
Clamoring for police reform, which Dayo maintains a majority in Utah and Ogden seek, “keeps falling on deaf ears with our leadership,” he said. Floyd died May 25 at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for several minutes. That policeman now faces a charge of second-degree murder.
Lt. Brian Eynon, meantime, the Ogden Police Department spokesman, says the topic is getting attention.
“We’re in continuous conversations regarding this. It’s a topic that’s hot right now,” Eynon said. “We’re always having conversations with the city.”
In a June 24 press release, however, Watt went through the 8 Can’t Wait reform proposals one by one, arguing that Ogden Police Department policies are largely in line with most and that some aren’t feasible. The 8 Can’t Wait measures call for a ban on chokeholds, verbal warnings by police before firing their guns, and more.
Eynon, similarly, said the department has no major changes or policy shifts to report since then.
“We are status quo right now,” he said.
Saturday’s rally at the Francom Public Safety Building, at 2186 Lincoln Ave., is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon. Dayo said the event has support and involvement of representatives from Black Lives Matter Northern Utah, the Ogden chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Indivisible Ogden, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, and a new group, El Comite Social Justice Movement.
“They have the right to protest anywhere in the city as long as they recognize the law. We welcome them here,” Eynon said.
‘PUT THE PRESSURE ON’Although the 8 Can’t Wait measures were the focus of a June 27 rally in front of the Ogden Municipal Building in the city center, Dayo regards them only as a starting point for change.
“The 8 Can’t Wait is the lowest rung, that’s the bottom of what we’re asking for,” he said.
More significantly, he has pushed the department to release data on the race and ethnicity of those stopped for traffic infractions, aiming to get a measure of possible police profiling. He’s also pushed for more racial and ethnic diversity among Ogden officers, which Watt has said he’s tried to do, so far with limited success.
Indeed, Dayo says he’s planning to organize a rally every two to three weeks or so to keep the focus on the issue. He’s pushed for reform in the city for years and says persistence is the key.
“We’ve got to put the pressure on because the minute we stop, that’s it, we lost the battle,” he said.