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State police focus on North Temple, make dozens of arrests

SALT LAKE CITY – State police say a 30-day operation, focusing on criminal behavior on North Temple near the Fairgrounds, is proving to be extremely successful.

Ever since Operation Rio Grande was enacted nearly a year ago, people living and working along North Temple have said criminals simply moved closer to them.  Nigel Swaby works commercial real estate, and he says a high number of homeless people and drug traffickers have been visible along the road, which can be a major turn-off for tourists using Trax to come downtown.

“This is the first thing they see about Salt Lake when they get close to downtown.  It‘s not the right impression we want to leave,” Swaby says.

However, Swaby says he’s seen big changes just from Wednesday night, when the Salt Lake City Police Department opened a new substation in the area.

(Photo, James Wooldridge, KSL)

He adds, “There are no longer people camping out in front of the street, in front of the Gateway Inn and in front of the former Arctic Circle.”

Just in the last two weeks, officers from the Department of Public Safety say they’ve made 87 drug-related arrests, issued 35 warrants and have taken seven fugitives into custody.  Lieutenant Rob Nixon says they were especially looking for drug dealers.

“From narcotics distribution, prostitution, narcotics use and all the various criminal behaviors that go along with that,” Nixon states.

The DPS had originally planned to focus on North Temple for 30 days, but, Nixon says they’ll extend that if they feel there’s a need.

“We brought in extra officers from southern Utah and central Utah,” Nixon states.