SALT LAKE CITY (ABC) – Members of the Salt Lake City Police Department met Thursday at Taufer Park to highlight the progress and efforts of the department’s Homeless Resource Center Squad (HRC).

There are two HRC Squads that began operation in July 2023, thanks to grant funding from the State of Utah. The goal of the HRC is to improve the safety and overall well-being of the unsheltered community in Salt Lake City. HRC Squads work primarily near the Gail Miller Resource Center and the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center.

“These squads serve as conduits to healthcare, mental health services, and substance abuse treatment,” said Chief Mike Brown. “But more importantly, they are helping to foster positive relationships between law enforcement and our unsheltered community. Having these specialized squads is part of the city’s ongoing approach of being proactive and responsive to the very unique needs of our growing community.”

Each Resource Center has a squad of one sergeant and five officers making up an HRC Squad. These officers take calls concerning the area around the centers and help patrol officers. They also serve as conduits to essential needs such as healthcare, mental health services, and substance abuse treatment.

According to the SLCPD since their inception the HRC Squads have taken nearly 1,400 calls for service, which includes calls generated through proactive policing; made nearly 2,900 business contacts; conducted 45 operations designed to go after criminals who prey on the vulnerable; made nearly 250 custodial arrests; and have referred nearly 10,000 people to services, whether that’s through the Salt Lake City Police Department’s social workers, the department’s victim advocates, the resource centers themselves, or referring people to the SLC mobile app.

“We engage our community thoroughly,” said Sergeant Nate Meinzer, who oversees the Gail Miller Resource Center Squad. “Our number one goal is to work with the community and empower our community because together…we can enforce the laws that are on the books and start to reduce the crime we see and make a true difference.”

Meizner also discussed his squad’s “New Hope Initiative.” He explained the program partners with the community to provide tokens to local businesses. These tokens are then used by businesses as they witness good deeds happening in the community, positive interaction, or kindness. These business partners can then give the community member-in-need a coin to express their appreciation. The token can then be traded in at the resource center for a $5 gift card.

Chief Brown pointed out during today’s press conference, that thanks to HRC Squads, locations like Taufer Park have become places being enjoyed and utilized by the surrounding communities instead of abandoned and considered dangerous as they have been in the past.