Salt Lake City unveils updated crime control plan
SALT LAKE CITY — Overall crime numbers and police response times are dropping in Salt Lake City, but city leaders say the progress is too slow. They’re unveiling their new crime control plan, and they’ll need more employees to make it work.
Crime control plan takes aim at safety, response times
While overall crime numbers have dipped across the city in the past month, officials say violent crimes have gone up in certain districts. In the city’s sixth district, violent crimes went up 25 percent. This kind of crime rose 48 percent in the fifth district over the past 28 days. People living in District One have seen a 20 percent rise in overall crime from a year ago.
The updated Crime Control Plan released by Salt Lake City has several new elements designed to keep crime down. For instance, the city received a grant that will fund a new Violent Crimes Task Force. Chief Mike Brown says it will handle things like gun crimes, smuggling, sexual offenses, kidnapping and human trafficking and assaults.
“It won’t be restricted to just a beat or an area,” Brown said. “It’ll be citywide.”
The city has enough funding to put ten officers on that task force, and they’ll use monthly CompStat data to determine where they should focus their efforts. Plus, a new Business Community Engagement Officer will be a direct point of contact for business owners dealing with crime.
The city needs more officers
The department still has 55 open police jobs to fill to make the plan work the way it should.
“It’s only ink on paper without the hard work and dedicated support of our officers, every day, that show up to this department and take those calls for service,” Brown said.
Over the course of 2020 and 2021, there was a mass exodus of officers leaving the force across the country. Mayor Erin Mendenhall says the city reached a low point in June of this year.
“[There was] a vacancy rate of 91 funded positions for patrol officers,” she said.
Mendenhall already announced a big pay raise for police officers earlier this year, but the new plan gives officers more incentives to stay. The department will ask the city council to allow them to expand their take-home car policy, and officers can get a bonus if they recruit police from other law enforcement agencies. They also want to look into helping workers with mortgage payments since many officers can’t afford to live within city limits.
Number of 911 calls still climbing
Mendenhall says they need to find better ways to handle the rising number of calls coming into 911 dispatchers. She wants to expand their online reporting system, which allows people to file a police report for things like ID theft, vandalism and harassing phone calls without calling for emergency help.
The new plan also has a call diversion program, which can send some 911 calls to other agencies better equipped to handle things like mental health breakdowns or someone considering taking their own life.
“This is a dynamic, intelligent police department who understands that while we have the best police officers in the country, they’re not the best response to every call for service that 911 receives,” Mendenhall says.
The department also wants to implement a Police Civilian Response Team, which allows civilians to handle matters like traffic control for large community events. Mendenhall says this will free up time for officers who need to respond to emergency calls.
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