On Wednesday, October 18, 2017, Speaker Greg Hughes, Senator Wayne Niederhauser, Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox, Commissioner Keith Squires, Chief Mike Brown and homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson held a news conference to provide a two-month update about Operation Rio Grande (ORG).

Before ORG, many individuals who needed help found themselves in danger due to the lawlessness the existed in the Rio Grande district. Crimes were occurring on a regular basis.  However, because of ORG, the district is safer, law and order are being restored and services continue. During the news conference, homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson mentioned services provided in the area from entities like The Road Home and Catholic Community Services of Utah have not decreased since ORG began. Rather, individuals now feel safer, and those who are seeking assistance has increased

Salt Lake City Police Department Chief Mike Brown mentioned that ORG offers an opportunity for those experiencing homelessness, mentally ill and even criminals to connect with the available resources. Additionally, Part 1 crimes are down 24 percent, and Part 2 crimes are down 58 percent in the Rio Grande area.

Most business owners, employees who work downtown, volunteers at shelters and residents of the area are thankful for the collaboration of resources that are committed to addressing the public safety concerns in the area.

Since the launch of the operation, 61 new treatment beds, and 15 detox beds have become available. Nearly 900 coordinated services cards have been distributed, making it easier on those seeking help to connect with appropriate services.

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, nine search warrants directly connected to intelligence gathered through ORG have been served that has led to 40 individuals arrested.

Additional information about the Dignity of Work phase of the operation is scheduled to be announced in November. It will include supportive services for individuals not ready for permanent employment to participate in pre-employment activities such as volunteerism, internships, training, workshops, skill development, and mentorships. As well as a work program to help those who have completed the “work-ready evaluation” and are ready for employment.

Operation Rio Grande is an on-going effort. There will be ups and downs. However, we must all remain diligent to overcome obstacles that arise over the next two years and committed to seeing this through to rid the area of criminal activity.

Watch the entire news conference here.

Watch the entire news conference to get a full an update on Operation Rio Grande here.

This infographic shows the successes and key items in progress.

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