SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Approximately 200 members of the Utah National Guard were activated by order of Utah Governor, Gary R. Herbert, to assist law enforcement agencies in protecting life and property in Salt Lake City, May 30, 2020. Peaceful protests began Saturday, 11 a.m. in SLC following the death of George Floyd, an African-American man from Minneapolis who died in police custody. When the SLC protests turned violent, Herbert issued an Executive Order, activating the Utah National Guard to help safeguard lives, protect property and maintain peace.
“We condemn violence and looting,” Herbert said in a tweet. “I have activated the National Guard to help control the escalating situation in downtown Salt Lake City. I once again call on all who are protesting to do so peacefully.”
In less than an hour, UTNG was ready to respond.
“We have activated Soldiers and Airmen from the Utah National Guard to support local law enforcement to preserve life and protect property,” said Brig. Gen. Michael J. Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, in an official statement released Saturday. “We are trained to provide support to civil authorities during various types of emergencies. We are fellow citizens; we are your neighbors; we support our law enforcement partners and fellow Utahns.”
Nearly 30 Airmen from the Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Security Forces Squadron and approximately 150 Soldiers from the Utah Army National Guard’s Reaction Force assisted law enforcement at several key locations around Salt Lake City throughout the night.
“I am grateful to the Airmen of the Utah Air National Guard for their readiness and quick response to the governor’s request for support to local civilian jurisdictions and responders,” said Col. Kurt Davis, 151st Air Refueling Wing commander.
“Our personnel are the cornerstone of the National Guard and I appreciate the coordination and professionalism displayed as they helped to maintain safety and peace during a tumultuous time,” Davis continued. “This is the type of thing we train for, and are ready to assist our community and help where we can.”
The mission of Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Security Forces Squadron “Defenders” is to enforce the law at Wright Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake City, but they can also be called up by the governor to respond to a crisis at a moment's notice.
“I started receiving phone calls around five o’clock, and within the hour, we were ready to respond,” said Lt. Col. Bruce Lewis, commander of the 151 SFS. “I can not express enough how proud I am of the 151 SFS ‘Defenders.’ Over the last five years, they have trained with the Utah Department of Public Safety and Salt Lake City Police Department, and it paid off last night. The rapid response, the seamless integration, and the professionalism of our Airmen is what the city needed. We were trained and ready to respond.”
During the night, UTNG assisted law enforcement after Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a city-wide curfew, which extended from 8 p.m. May 30, to 6 a.m. June 1, 2020.
“In response to the violence and destruction of property in Salt Lake City today, I have issued a curfew that will apply to all of SLC extending from 8 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Monday morning,” Mendenhall announced in a tweet.
Members of the UTNG remain ready to face any crisis in a wide array of unique capabilities, from law enforcement and civil support to medical care, working right alongside civilian law enforcement agencies and emergency responders. Many of the specially trained Soldiers in the National Guard Response Force are from the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion, able to provide Utah with a rapid response capability, focused on incidents requiring law enforcement or security support.
“I couldn't be more proud of our Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Scott Chalmers, commander, 142nd MI Battalion. “They truly define what it means to be a citizen-Soldier.”
The NGRF is designed to respond to an incident ahead of federal assets, capable of delivering an initial force of 75-125 personnel within eight hours.
“This year alone, members of the 142nd MI Battalion deployed back east in support of federal missions and to the Southwest Border,” Chalmers said. “When the governor called, Soldiers from across the state dropped barbecues, picnics, camping trips, and family outings and showed up in record time."
The NGRF mobilized in less than four hours, with Soldiers geared up, loaded, and traveling to augment local law enforcement.
Chalmers said Soldiers from the 142ND MI worked all through the night, standing guard at key infrastructures throughout Salt Lake City, to augment law enforcement.
"They continue to stand ready for as long as the governor needs them.”
While working alongside law enforcement during a time of civil unrest in Salt Lake City, UTNG also continues to support the state’s response to COVID-19 with mobile testing sites, document translation, and the governor’s PPE Push Pack initiative, ensuring local businesses have proper personal protective equipment to reopen the economy.