SALT LAKE CITY – North Temple: it’s a part of downtown that has been well-known for having a lot of crime, but people living and working near there say it’s getting worse. Some people believe criminals have just moved away from Pioneer Park.
When police started breaking up the drug traffic around Pioneer Park due to Operation Rio Grande, they knew the drug dealers and other criminals would move around.
People working along North Temple near 900 West say the crime seems to have found another place to take root.
North Temple workers and residents weigh in
One store worker says, “Since they’ve really buckled down on the shelter area, and as they’re pushing the homeless away from the shelter area, they’ve been migrating this way.”
According to nearby residents who have spoken with KSL, the illegal activity seems to be busiest on the south side of the street near the Gateway Inn and a building that used to be an Arctic Circle.
One man says things have become especially bad in the last four months.
“There are a lot of homeless people and, personally, I’ve seen a lot of drug deals and a lot of prostitution. All of that stuff has gone up so much lately,” he says.
Others say things were better, slightly, during the Utah State Fair. But, it didn’t last long.
“When the [Utah State] Fair was here, you could see a difference in the people walking around. When the people from the fair were walking around, you could see the difference.”
Police presence in the area
One of those buildings, the former Arctic Circle, was converted into a temporary Salt Lake City Police substation. Why isn’t is still a substation? Since the SLCPD doesn’t own the building, they don’t have control over what it’s going to be.
“We’ll have a different presence in different areas at different times, and that made sense at that moment,” says Salt Lake City Detective Greg Wilking.
Police could not confirm whether or not crime and arrests have increased in that area in recent months.
Wilking says the department works on what they call a “comparable statistics” model, which means they study where they’re getting the most calls, and then they place more resources in those areas.
“So, if we see a spike in burglaries in a particular area, we go out and make a concerted effort to reduce burglaries in that area,” he says.
The problem with this model comes when people don’t call police about the crimes they’re seeing, Wilking said. However, police have other ways they can investigate possible criminal activity. The department has placed two camera towers near this stretch of North Temple.
Plus, Wilking says, “We also will do undercover operations in various places as well. That one is not quite as evident, but, that might increase the arrests of drug crimes in an area.”
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