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Major initiative announced to fight crime near SLC homeless shelter

SALT LAKE CITY – State lawmakers, Salt Lake City Police and Salty Lake County officials are releasing details of a major initiative to fight crime around the homeless shelter in the Rio Grande area of Salt Lake.

On the first morning of Operation Rio Grande, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires says there were over a dozen arrests.  “We have, and will have, between 100 and 150 officers to work 24/7.  That means we’re not going away.  That means that there won’t be any cover at night, either,” Squires says.

The operation has three phases.  Today, we saw phase one.  Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox says the plan is to first find the drug dealers preying on the homeless.   “We’ve launched a law enforcement operation in the Rio Grande district, utilizing 100 officer and advanced intelligence to disrupt drug-trafficking operations,” he says.  However, he’s not calling today’s arrests a “crackdown.”  He says they have been gathering specific intelligence about the drug dealers near the homeless shelter, and knew exactly who they were looking for.  Cox adds, “This is very targeted and very surgical.”

The next phase is to find more jail beds and more treatment beds for people who need them.  Five other counties have offered beds, when needed.  Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes says this is not a one-and-done operation.  “We’re here, and we’re here in a multi-jurisdictional way for the next two years,” Hughes says

The third is to create more work opportunities for people who are ready for them.  Workforce development officials will be offering job coaching and offering hard skill training.

(Photo Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)