Is ‘Operation Rio Grande’ working?

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah)- It’s been one year since Operation Rio Grande first began.

Thursday on News4Utah we’re taking an “In Focus” look at the two-year operation and the successes as well as the work that is left this year.

The two-year project designed in three phases: public safety, treatment, and helping the homeless find jobs.

While leaders continue to work on phase three, they are hopeful with the progress they have already seen.

The Salt Lake City Police Department is at the center of Operation Rio Grande. Officers are working every day to make downtown Salt Lake City safer for everyone.

Deputy Chief Josh Scharman with SLCPD joined us in studio to discuss the progress and future goals of the operation.

He said officers were finally given the tools to make the area safer for the community but also safer for the homeless people.

“We want to make sure we have options other than jail,” Deputy Scharman said.

The operation focuses on treatment for drug recovery or mental health and employment.

“When you see somebody there…maybe they’re an addict, maybe they are experiencing mental health issues. To be able to identify that and realize that’s not necessarily a crime or a public safety issue, it’s something that we actually want to be able to help him or her,” he explained.

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