Looking for an insiders view of Operation Rio Grande? These guys are out there day in and day out. Check out this great short video where the Utah Highway Patrol offers a first-hand account of Operation Rio Grande and it’s effectiveness.
The Pioneer Park Coalition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Neighborhood Residents, Businesses, & Advocates Applaud Operation Rio Grande
Salt Lake City, Utah – August 17, 2017
Residents, businesses, and advocates of Utah’s Rio Grande neighborhood support efforts by the State of Utah, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, and other jurisdictions to combat lawlessness through “Operation Rio Grande.” This operation, which began Monday, is an effort to address crime in the area, while improving the provision of services to homeless residents, including children.
“We have grown sick of the ongoing violence in this neighborhood,” said Susana Clar, a resident. “Finally, we are beginning to feel safe again. I pray that these efforts will continue and that state and local governments are serious about maintaining this presence until this issue is solved.”
State and local officials have told the Pioneer Park Coalition that Operation Rio Grande is intended to last roughly two years and is focused on restoring public order and providing services to people experiencing homelessness.
“I commend law enforcement officials and our state and local governments for responding to our pleas to enforce the law here,” explained local business owner Tiffanie Provost. “We just want the same basic level of safety and decency that exists anywhere else in this state.”
“The children of the Rio Grande area desperately needed this action,” stated Dr. Clotilde Houchon, a long-time advocate for children experiencing homelessness in the area. “Having predators and criminals in the same spaces as kids was a recipe for disaster. I am also encouraged by the Operation’s emphasis on respecting civil rights and getting people the services they need.”
The Pioneer Park Coalition is an alliance of residents and businesses of the Rio Grande seeking to create a safe community and improve services for the homeless.
“We are in this for the long haul.”
It’s a hot afternoon in the abandoned lower level of what was once Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Gateway Mall in the embattled Rio Grande neighborhood of downtown Salt Lake City. The room is filled with over 350 people, including many member of our Pioneer Park Coalition, anxiously awaiting an update on what has been dubbed “Operation Rio Grande,” a three-phase plan to eliminate lawlessness, assist the homeless, return the streets to a family friendly environment, and return businesses to a state of success.
Lawless activity, centered around the blatant drug trade, has plagued the area for years, with the Salt Lake City police department doing their best to combat the problem. Their best efforts, however, have been little more than a bandaid. Without a bigger plan, each “sweep” or “cleanup” of the area has lasted only a week or two before the bad guys moved right back in. Enter “Operation Rio Grande.”
Monday, August 14th, phase one of this 2+ year operation went into effect. Yesterday, August 15th, many member of our Pioneer Park Coalition joined residents, business owners, lawmakers, law enforcement, and other citizens to hear an update from those who have been in the thick of things, especially over the last 17 days. We were able to hear from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Speaker Greg Hughes, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown, and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires.
While each spoke individually about specifics to their department, the underlying themes were the same. First, they are in this for the long haul. They are committed. Second, this is an unprecedented operation with commitment and integration on the city, state, county, and private level, with bipartisanship and cooperation. Why do we not see this type of operation very often, they asked. Simple: It’s hard. But they are committed to the operation and bringing the Rio Grande area back. Bringing people, business, and safety back. Third, they need the public’s help. This is a transparent operation and only with help from the citizens of Salt Lake City and surrounding areas can this be a success.
After the individual comments, the panel addressed specific FAQ from members of the audience. We as the Pioneer Park Coalition were pleased with the quality and thoughtfulness of the questions as well as the answers provided. Transparency and honesty prevailed and we feel like this is an amazing first step to an operation that will benefit us all.
A few Operation Rio Grande FAQ and responses:
Q: What are the specifics of the three-phase plan?
A: The following graphic was provided and gives a great overview of the plan, which will move quickly. The first phase started Monday August 14th and phase two will begin Friday.
Q: How can citizens report issues and/or perceived threats in their community?
A: For non-emergencies please call 799-3000. Use your camera on your phone. Take photos and send them to Salt Lake City police. As reports come in, a log is created, people are sent to those areas. In an emergency, of course, call 911.
Q: How will the physical clean-up of the Rio Grande area work?
A: A daily schedule of street-sweeping and cleanup will begin August 16th and continue indefinitely. As a “spidering” effect continues to move the homeless population to different areas and you feel cleanup is needed, please contact the SLC County Health Department.
Q: What is happening to the homeless people’s belongings if they’re arrested?
A: The Salt Lake Police Department is committed to treating every individual equally, including our homeless population. Items are inventoried and held until they can be returned to the owner. Additional personnel have been brought in to help with this task.
Q: What can individuals do to help?
A: Learn about the programs that are available and make donations to support these programs. Do not give to panhandlers, that is one of the biggest problems that we have. It is now illegal to give (transact) with panhandlers in major thoroughfares. It doesn’t help people and is dangerous! Instead, give through and volunteer through SLCHOST.org.
Q: What are we doing to ensure the civil liberties of these people are protected.
A: ACLU associates are working closely with our government leaders. The Operation is very transparent. We are all working to ensure that those who are needing help are receiving the help they need and by not being forced to associate with those who are there for the wrong reasons.
Q: How has the homeless population responded to law enforcement being in the field?
A: As expected, responses have been mixed. Those with something to hide, who want to continue to live unlawfully without repercussions are obviously agitated. Others, those who have lived in fear and are victims of those who prey on the less fortunate, have expressed gratitude to law enforcement and others involved. The goal is that this gratitude will prevail and that we can feel that gratitude for years to come.
Q: What is the ongoing police presence going to be?
A: Once order is restored, we anticipated it will take much less much less man power to maintain the safety of the area.
Q: Employers have expressed concern as to how they can keep their employees safe as they come to work.
A: One of the greatest resources are the bicycle cops. Call 799-DNTN, and these police officers can address the concerns on a one on one basis.
The meeting ended with Mayor McAdams reiterating the end goal. This is a long haul operation. We must BREAK THE CYCLE! The criminals will serve their time and leave the jail with hope. Those who need treatment will receive it and leave without debilitating addiction. These people can regain their dignity, receive stable and affordable housing, obtain and retain jobs. And BREAK THE CYCLE. The homeless population is invited to come back to the area to receive services. It is safe for you here.
A huge thank you from us at PPC to all those who are sacrificing and working to make this dream a reality.
That is what this is all about, folks. We at the Pioneer Park Coalition are excited and committed to being a large part of the solution in Operation Rio Grande. Will you join us?
Download the plan here: Operational Recommendations – SLCO
New data released by Salt Lake County and the Collective Impact Steering
Committee gives new insight into Salt Lake’s homeless population. The report highlights key demographics, reasons for being homeless and more. Read the full article and report at sltrib.com
Future of Cities Event
The PPC and Impact HUB Salt Lake invite you to a special film screening and panel discussion on homelessness in SLC.
The following 2 events are part of the #FutureofCities week-long event series, September 26-30, across fifteen North American Cities on topics of local impact. Please follow these links and plan to attend. Your awareness and educated opinion are critical to solving the problems facing Utah.
Film Screening: Dogtown Redemption
Wednesday, September 28, 7:00-9:00 PM
Impact HUB Salt Lake, 150 S. State Street, SLC
Join us for the documentary film screening of Dogtown Redemption this Wednesday at 7:00pm.
This film explores the complex dynamics of race, class, and systemic poverty as it tells the story of four recyclers in Oakland who struggle to survive in a neighborhood already decimated by unemployment, addiction, and violence. Following the screening, film director, Amir Sotani will join us for a live Q&A about the film.
FREE& OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. TICKETS ARE LIMITED.
VIEW TRAILER & GET TICKETS HERE:
Doors Open: 7:00pm
Screening Begins: 7:30pm
The film is 60 minutes
Town Hall: Homelessness
Thursday, September 29, 6:00-9:00PM
Impact HUB Salt Lake, 150 S. State Street, SLC
In this Town Hall, meet key players in mental health, crime, and the economy in Utah. Come learn about the complex factors of this issue and how you can co-create solutions to help our community.
- Angela Brown | Executive Editor, SLUG Magazine
- Shaleane Gee | Director of Special Projects & Partnerships, Salt Lake County
- David Litvack | Deputy Chief of Staff, Salt Lake City
- Josh Scharman | Deputy Chief of Police, SLCPD
- Kathy Bray | President & CEO, Volunteers of America Utah
- Matt Minkevitch | Executive Director, The Road Home
- Bryson Garbett | Founder & President, Garbett Homes
EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
PLEASE RSVP HERE:
At the August PPC Membership meeting Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams presented a newly proposed action plan to reduce homelessness. PPC Technology Director, Sean Halls, also presents to the coalition regarding innovations in technology which could be applied to social services in America. To learn more about the Salt Lake County Process visit their site here.
Wow! Quite a collection of stories in June from the press about The Pioneer Park & Downtown District. Do you guess that it is good or bad news?
Here’s a game to play called “Take Your Pick”.
It’s sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure for The Rio Grande District. It’s easy to play, just close your eyes and blindly click a link below and see where it takes you:
Salt Lake County is asking for more than $27 Million to reform homeless services. Will the needs of the Rio Grande neighborhood be met?
Over the past year, The Salt Lake County Collective Impact on Homelessness and the Mayor’s Commission on Homeless Site Evaluation have been hard at work to prepare a new way to fight the cycle of crime and homelessness in Utah.
As the catalyst behind the entirety of change of homeless services, the PPC has been, and will continue to be, a major factor in shaping what happens.
Salt Lake County’s HOMES Initiative asks for $27 million from the state legislature to reform homeless services. This initiative will affect Salt Lake County and the entire state.
How will this affect the Rio Grande neighborhood of Salt Lake? How do we ensure the needs and safety of our neighborhood are met?
The public is invited. Please come to discuss the initiative with your legislators and public officials. Your participation at this week’s meeting is required.
Thursday, February 11th, 3:30-5:00pm
Aspen Room, East Senate Building, Utah State Capitol
Here is what we’ve got so far..
We will be in contact with you throughout this week as we gather more information about the currently developing legislation of the HOMES Initiative.
One time for two facilities: $20 million
Ongoing for facilities support and enhanced service operations: $4 million/yr
Ongoing for statewide housing prevention and diversion program: $3 million/yr
One time new private match: $10 million
$27M request for homeless shelters, services presents a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’
By Marjorie Cortez – Deseret News
Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2nd, 2015
Pioneer Park Coalition Mayoral Candidate Interview
Salt Lake City &mdash The October Pioneer Park Coalition meeting will feature a ’ 1 on 1 ’ conversation with both Salt Lake City Mayoral Candidates, District 4 Council Candidates and the Coalition body.
Mayoral Candidates Ralph Becker and Jackie Biskupski, as well as District 4 City Council Candidates Derek Kitchen and Nate Salazar, are scheduled to take time independently of each other in front of the Coalition.
When: Wednesday, October 7th at 3:00 p.m.
Where: Senate Committee Room 210, Senate Building, Utah State Capitol
Coalition members and media are invited to attend.
We believe the leadership and vision of the Salt Lake City Mayor is absolutely critical in solving the complex issues confronting the Pioneer Park neighborhood including: increasing public safety, reducing crime, and decreasing street-level homelessness.
The Pioneer Park Coalition is a consortium of public, private, faith-based and non-profit sector stakeholders who want to improve the quality of life in the Pioneer Park Neighborhood by developing sustainable solutions.
Follow us on Twitter (@PPC_SLC) and ’’ us on Facebook for more updates on this event.
Headlines for October PPC Meeting
Business owners, community members ‘interview’ mayoral hopefuls on conditions in Pioneer Park area
By Marjorie Cortez – Deseret News
October 7th, 2015