Analysis: Good intentions aside, how shall we then judge?

Dallas Hyland is a St. George News columnist, the opinions stated herein are his own and not those of St. George News.

OPINION – There is an age-old adage that observes how people in general tend to judge themselves in light of their intentions while judging others in light of their actions.

I have often asserted that this is the crux of most misunderstandings and injustice in human interaction.

But what of our tendency to pick, choose, support, and defend our predispositions without regard to logic or facts?

People do this and offer up what is tantamount to a disclaimer for actual behavior with the notion that because their intentions may have been misunderstood, they should somehow be exempt from the consequences of their actions.

Let’s put some skin on this.

Last year, an off-duty Utah State Patrolman left his home to assist in a traffic accident almost 40 miles north on Interstate 15.

While traveling at a rate of speeds up to 100 mph on a residential street he collided with a car killing two elderly women.

In light of his intentions, which were assumed to be good, his good track record, service with the agency, and some rather vague interpretations of state laws and agency protocols, he was exonerated and to my knowledge is back at work doing a fine job.

My question is profound in its simplicity and your answer defines you.

What if you or I did the same thing?

Would our good track record as citizens and well-intentioned reasons for driving in reckless fashion be enough to exonerate us from a second-degree murder charge?

Now, my good friend and colleague Kate Dalley would likely chime in that what is not understood here is how kind, goodhearted, well intentioned, under appreciated, and misunderstood our men and women in uniform really are; that because of the nature of their profession and their selfless dedication to the community they should somehow be held to a different standard than the everyday citizen.

I wonder if they agree?

I wonder if it would have gained the USP more respect from the community had they held this officer to the same standard or even the higher standard one might assume them to have by the very nature of the fact that: With granted power comes more accountability and responsibility.

I have no malice of heart towards this officer. It was a bad day for everyone and his guilt for the outcome of his decisions cannot be comprehended.

But I wonder what he would say to a drunk driver he was about to arrest for killing someone with their car who maintained their innocence by saying they had intended something better than  what actually happened.

He might find himself in a moment of clarity able to empathize with the drivers remorse after the fact, but he would hold him accountable for his actual actions.


See you out there.

email: [email protected]

twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright 2012 St. George News.


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  • Kate Dalley April 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Dallas, Dallas, Dallas, , my good friend and colleague, let’s not put words in my mouth. 😉 Intentions, yes have something to do with crime- ask any lawyer on having to prove intent when prosecuting a crime. So intentions do matter. Do good intentions excuse reckless behavior- even if it’s a cop? No. Never. The officer was speeding but had his lights and siren on when he was traveling. This does carry with it some level of immunity for a police officer. They are supposed to show judgment and enter stoplight situations at a safe speed. If he had not had his lights and siren on, he would of been subject to charges. The SLC police department helped on this investigation (not just STG department) and exonerated him after looking at his speed and the factors surrounding the case. His intentions do matter. He did not intend to kill these two women that day. It was a horrible accident. There was an officer, Jeffrey Westerman, up in Provo that fondled and sexually assaulted a girl during a traffic stop and he was fired, convicted and sent to prison. Police officers are not immune from everything. Westerman clearly had the intent to harm this girl using his special trust and position as a cop. He got what he deserved. But in the case of a pursuit, yes, cops are giving a level of immunity but if they exceed that and act recklessly, they are subject to all the laws that we are. I would never say that all cops have good intent so they should not be subject to same laws as average citizens. Never. Just that in some cases intentions can matter. In a court of law, intent is a very big deal. Well…jurors think so. ;D Dallas your awesome.

  • Bryan Hyde April 14, 2012 at 11:25 am

    The biggest question marks hanging over this case are why the highway patrolman who (a.)had enough time to grab some lunch before responding to an accident that (b.) was nearly 30 miles away to which (c.) first responders were already on the scene, saw fit to activate his lights & siren and drive at such excessive speeds.

    Dallas makes a fine point that anyone not wearing the habiliments of the state would have been prosecuted for choosing to create a situation in which innocent lives were lost. This is why many of us have an increasing sense that the state seeks to protect its own interests above those of its citizens.

  • ncts retired April 15, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Dallas , you are way off balance…. and you are only whipping a dead dog ! For a second , I thought you had jumped ship… and started writting for the other media outlet ( if it can be considered a media outlet ). What happened is an accident , and is too bad . But why is it that the traveling public is never at fault or the cause of an accident ? . Whenever there is an incident of the freeway , the oncoming traffic almost never slows down and moves over , to give those who are assisting with the incident some room . There seems to be a sense of urgency around town to hurry and get from point A to point B . All with no resept to the other motorist on the road. As for your comments about traveling 100 mph on a residental street. River rd. would be classified an urban 4 lane surface street. It is funny how everyone in this town is a instant N.I.A. …From the woman quoted in the Other media , how here husband has been to many races and know how fast etc. to the person walking their dog… Until you , and your co-worker Bryan have some experience in the field of a emergency responder… Kindly keep your thoughts to yourself… When you get some experience, you will have a better understanding , and the articles will more informative ! You all have a REAL GOOD THING GOING HERE ! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK !!

  • just an observer April 16, 2012 at 4:53 am

    The author was a firefighter. His experience is not in question. The sound judgment of the officer and the level of his level of accountability is. Perhaps you should consider some experience in journalism. Without hard journalists applying the second amendment of free press, who will keep our elected and appointed officials in check? You present an emotional, non-sensical argument to a valid question and while it is certainly understandable, clearly missed the point of the article.

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