Park City, Summit County Republicans celebrate local law enforcement
About a hundred people from around Summit County and even a few from down in the Salt Lake Valley turned out at Pinebrook Park Wednesday for a celebration of Summit County and Park City law enforcement.
The event had its origins in a group on NextDoor called Republicans of Park City. Lisa Wall, a member of the group and one of the organizers of the event, said the group wanted to rally for law enforcement before the general election in November. The group teamed with the Summit County Republican Party to make the event a reality.
“We wanted to build some enthusiasm for this group we started and do something for law enforcement,” she said. “Because we think they’re just getting a bad rap right now. As Republicans we do back the police. We don’t want to see them defunded or abolished or replaced with social workers.”
The event, which featured remarks from Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez and Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter, as well as a drone demonstration, raised $680 for the Utah 1033 Fallen Officers Foundation.
In practice the event also served as an opportunity for Republicans to rally. The Summit County Republican Party had a table set up, as did Park City High School’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit. And there were several “Trump 2020” signs and “Make America Great Again” hats on display.
There was also a Blue Lives Matter table, manned by Jeremy Ranch resident Donna Riley. Riley, also a member of Republicans of Park City, said she wanted local law enforcement to know there are people who “have their back.”
“The way police are being treated across this country is abhorrent,” she said. “In every profession there are bad apples. Doesn’t mean you throw the whole pot of apples away.”
Riley, though, acknowledged the event was as much about rallying for conservative politics as about celebrating the police. She said her group is unhappy with the Democratic-leaning leadership at the city and county level and is hoping to find and support conservatives to run for office.
Riley drew a contrast between the civil unrest that has taken place since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and her group’s efforts to gain traction in the largely liberal Park City area.
“We don’t want to be silent but we certainly don’t want to go burn down buildings,” she said. “We’re civilized. We want to do it the right way.”
Sue Pollard, former vice chair of the Summit County GOP, said she feels fortunate to live in a community that has a strong relationship with its law enforcement.
“With all the divisiveness in the country it is really nice to live in a community where we do like our policemen and want to show our support,” she said.
Pollard pointed to Martinez and Carpenter as setting a positive tone and for doing their part to ensure that law enforcement is seen as a positive part of the community in Summit County.
“I think they are great leaders in that respect,” she said.
The rally attendees mingled for about an hour Wednesday night, enjoying drinks and Mexican food courtesy of Taqueria los Cuñados, before Carpenter and Martinez addressed the crowd and thanked them for the warm reception.
“Having your support means so much to all of us,” Carpenter said. “It means so much to our officers, who are truly the heroes here, who are on the frontline day in and day out while dealing with the rhetoric that is going on throughout the country and throughout the world.”
Carpenter, who has served as chief of police in Park City for 22 years, said that, while the job is often stressful, knowing his officers have a good relationship with the community they serve helps to ease that stress.
“At the end of the day, the support of the citizens, the fact that you are here and you recognize the sacrifices of our officers, means a great deal to all of us,” he said.
Martinez opened his remarks by acknowledging the elephant in the room — or rather, the donkey.
“I don’t want you all to run off,” he said. “But I am a Democrat.”
The crowd responded with sarcastic applause and playful jeers, but Martinez said he mentioned that for a reason.
“My party affiliation has nothing to do with what I do as sheriff,” he said. “The point is we are falling into camps, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s time for us in this country to unify and find common ground.”
Martinez said the law enforcement community is hurting and he hopes events like Wednesday’s can be a step toward healing. He also recognized, though, that law enforcement needs to look inward, as well.
“There is nothing we hate more as good cops than when an officer does something bad,” Martinez said. “And what (Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin) did to Mr. Floyd was wrong. I will stand up here and say he was wrong.
“We have to call out our own people and hold each other accountable. When we start doing that as a country we are going to unite and we are going to heal.”
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