Racial Equality and Police Reform in Utah

Darlene McDonald was present for the Cottonwood Heights police protest that was held on Sunday evening (August 2nd). She was invited to speak. In this interview we discuss police reform in Utah.


Darlene McDonald

Darlene McDonald ended up in Utah in 2002 after she decided to drive along 1-15 in her small car with her three kids from Cincinnati.

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Equipped with a strong work ethic that she learned from her father– who always worked two jobs– she worked her way up in the tech industry. Her skill set has enabled her to afford a lifestyle to travel the world and write about her observations and travels in a blog she maintains. McDonald is currently a Senior Product Support Engineer at Oracle. McDonald is also a member of Salt Lake City’s new Racial Equity in Policing Commission and a Black community leader in Utah.

Similar to most Black Lives Matter supporters, McDonald believes that America is an inherently racist country and that “institutional racism” is a fact of life in Utah and America and major reform is required.

McDonald answered questions regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and how and why they believe that defunding the police is a realistic goal as well as dismantling many of our “racist institutions” such as our criminal justice system. On the Black Lives Matter website they state:

The blacklivesmatter.com has posted a video regarding “What does it mean to Defund the Police?” A graphic in the video states:

More than 1,000 men, women and children are killed by the police every single year and thousands more are brutalized and abused. The police are out of control.

“To address police brutality, electeds decided to spend millions more on “police reform” to teach the police how to behave. But that doesn’t work – police are still killing Black people at the same rates. That’s why everyone is saying it’s time to defund the police.”

McDonald says they don’t literally mean to “defund the police.” McDonald’s role in serving on the Racial Equality in Policing Commission is to offer recommendations to the Mayor and Salt Lake City Council on how they can enact major reforms.

She says that one of her major recommendations is to maintain far more counselors to assist with the mentally ill and drug addicts and use far fewer officers, who aren’t equipped to handle all of the various cases of mental illness with which they are burdened. “Maybe it isn’t law enforcement that you need to call, but a social worker. Many homeless people are veterans. Many are suffering from PTSD,” said McDonald.

I asked Darlene McDonald how high-crime areas with fewer police would not become worse? If police budgets are drastically reduced and crime rates rise, property values will decline. Therefore the overall budget that was previously available for policing might not be available if people choose to leave.

McDonald doesn’t attribute the recent increases in crime in places like Baltimore, Chicago and New York to the defunding of the police departments in those areas. She believes that the unemployment due to COVID and the unrest due to the killing of George Floyd is the reason that those areas have seen increases in crime and murder. Listen to our entire interview where we also discuss the 1619 Project, homeless issues in Utah and more on criminal justice reform.

Darlene McDonald was present for the Cottonwood Heights police protest that was held on Sunday evening (August 2nd). She was invited to speak. However, the police demanded that the protestors remove themselves from roads. When it was clear there wasn’t enough space on the sidewalks for protestors, the police (several of which were dressed in riot gear), began to arrest protestors and use tasers and pepper spray. Cottonwood Heights has been one of Utah’s most notorious PDs in terms of maintaining a “culture of corruption” as two former officers told Utah Stories when we reported on them.

Skip ahead:

@ 28:26 Black Lives Matter Burgess Owens calls them a Marxist Organization. What do you have to say about that?

@33:07 Is America inherently a racist country?

@40 The question of opportunity: Where else would an ethnic minority or people who have dark skin have more opportunity then where they have here?

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