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SLC Police deny culture of intimidation among homeless

SALT LAKE CITY — The ACLU of Utah claims constant police contacts with the homeless leads to a culture of intimidation. Salt Lake City Police disagree.

Police and social workers do approach non-criminal homeless.

“There are some times when we’ll contact them when we’ll provide them access to treatment, access to employment, or access to housing,” said Dep. Chief Josh Scharman.

Scharman adds most homeless decline to take those services.

The ACLU reports more than 5,000 arrests in 14 months with Operation Rio Grande, with just over 200 people getting treatment or drug court.

“We want to make sure we concentrate on criminal behavior, and engaging those homeless people while being a resource and a first step to whatever deficiencies they may have in their life,” Scharman said.

The ACLU says crimes among homeless moved when the homeless moved out of Rio Grande. Scharman says police are tracking those, too.