SALT LAKE CITY — A 30-day operation focusing on crime along North Temple has already resulted in more than 80 drug arrests in the first two weeks, according to law enforcers.
As part of the continuing Operation Rio Grande effort, the Department of Public Safety and Salt Lake City police recently launched a monthlong operation focusing on North Temple, saturating the area with extra patrols and more officers, both uniformed and undercover.
In just two weeks, DPS officers alone have made 87 drug-related arrests, served 35 warrants, and arrested seven fugitives mainly on federal or Adult Probation and Parole warrants, said State Bureau of Investigations Major Tyler Kotter. In addition, 39 alleged drug dealers have been arrested, he said.
North Temple has been on the radar of law enforcement since day one of Operation Rio Grande, Kotter said. The new operation is in response to concerns from residents and business owners about recent criminal activity in the area, he said. Kotter said while crime existed on North Temple before Operation Rio Grande, putting pressure on one area of the city, such as the area around the homeless shelter, prompted criminals to move to other areas.
“Sometimes the criminal element needs that pressure to stop doing what they’re doing in that area,” he said. “They move to certain areas. We recognize that and move with them. It’s an ongoing effort.”
The main focus of the operation has been in the area of 900 West North Temple. Kotter said some businesses point to the closure of an Arctic Circle, 837 North Temple, as an example of how crime has affected businesses in the area.
On Wednesday, Salt Lake City police announced the vacant fast-food restaurant had now been converted into a temporary substation for bike patrol officers. Chief Mike Brown said the movement of criminals from to the North Temple area was anticipated. The area, he said, has seen everything from prostitution to drug dealing recently.
The 30-day operation will continue through the end of the month. But even after that, Kotter said police will still be in the area.
“We’re not going away by any means,” he said. “The effort is not going to stop.”