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As Operation Rio Grande continues, police urge residents to report problems

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Leaders of Operation Rio Grande gave an update on the first 48 hours in which they arrested 158 people, but say even more have been helped into services. 
 
After two days, many communities have complained the problem has poured into their neighborhoods with people camping and criminals selling drugs. Police say they want the public to report it. 
 
“We encourage that please call and let us know if you’re seeing an uptick or a camp spring up or something like that we need to know. Again we can provide that outreach with the resources built into this program,” said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown. 
 
Authorities say they anticipated this especially with the drug trade, and it could lead to more arrests.
 
“They’re going to have to go to other places, and are, and trying to still move their product. So that’s part of the play, but when they’re doing that they’re also exposing themselves to risks,” said Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires. 
 
People can be found camping in some west Salt Lake City neighborhoods. They say they avoid Rio Grande area altogether. 
 
“It makes me really uncomfortable down there and sometimes I feel unsafe. Just the people there are a lot of mean scandalous people down there,” said Syndee Collingwood, a woman experiencing homelessness. 
 
Collingwood has been homeless for three years because of drug addiction, and says camping on the streets can be hard and dangerous. She didn’t even realize the operation was going on. She only noticed that more officers were in the area. She also did not realize the services outreach was also underway.
 
When asked if she’d be willing to give it [recovery] a second shot now, she answered, ” Yeah. I need a lot of the services I hear they offer. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get them I just don’t really know where to go.”
 
Police are tracking every report of camping or drug dealing that started because of the operation. They say if you see any of this behavior going on in your neighborhood, call the non-emergency dispatch number at 801-799-3000. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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