After assuring state legislators that he would seek a proper balance between public safety and civil liberties, law enforcement veteran Keith Squires was unanimously recommended Thursday as the commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's vote sent Gov. Gary Herbert's nomination of Squires to head up the state's law enforcement operations, including the Utah Highway Patrol, toward a final confirmation vote by the full Senate. Squires' decades in law enforcement impressed the four lawmakers on the committee who cast the vote, but he was also subjected to some grilling, mostly by committee chair Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, about whether police can adequately protect citizens without trampling on their rights.
Recent news about the federal government's collection of data from private online and phone communications through the National Security Agency cast a long shadow on the proceedings. Madsen asked Squires a lengthy series of questions about what Squires thought about such tools as license plate scanners, which Madsen wondered might aid in the collection of citizens' data in the pursuit of criminals.