‘We need more officers’: Crime rates rising throughout SLC and state, police looking to fill positions

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Salt Lake City Police Department is looking to fill open positions as they continue to deal with the city’s increase in violent crime.

Data shows crimes like aggravated assault have gone up rapidly and so have thefts throughout SLC and the state

SLCPD said it feels the hurt like many other agencies.

Sgt. Mark Wian said he knows crime is happening in almost every area of Salt Lake City and realizes acts of gun violence and violent crimes are up; about 10 percent in fact from 2020 to 2021.

He tells ABC4 regardless of the numbers and 50+ open positions, the department is committed to holding criminals accountable.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a press conference Sunday about Aaron Lowe’s alleged shooter being found that SLCPD is the best agency in the state, but needs to hire more people to keep up with demand.

“As a state, we are down more than 600 police officers across all the departments,” said Mendenhall.

57 of those open positions are sworn officer positions within SLCPD.

A full staff would be 571 sworn officer positions.

Those who would like to apply for a position can click here.

Wian said there is a group of officers getting trained now, but the ones who quit left for various reasons.

“It caused some officers to reevaluate their priorities with their family and maybe their career choice and some left the profession altogether,” said Wian.

Altogether, the latest data from Salt Lake City Police showed a 10 percent increase in violent crime and a 2 percent increase in property crime; this from 2020 to 2021.

Breaking it down by neighborhood, the Rose Park area saw a 36 percent increase in property crime and most of downtown Salt Lake City saw a 30 percent increase in violent crime.

The biggest increase was with aggravated assault.

Sgt. Wian said currently there is a group of officers training.

“There are still people that are compelled to be in a profession of service to find that fulfillment of helping people on their worst day, to be that calm in that particular chaos, to be the voice of reason in a moment of crisis.” said Wian.

Mayor Mendenhall, who has been in her position about two years said she knows officers are struggling but knows there are certainly more people who want to help.

“We need more officers,” said Mendenhall. “We need to be able to respond to calls for help that come from our community and I know that our officers want to be able to do that.”

Looking at the big picture of crime in Salt Lake City, crime is up 2.5 percent throughout the entire city when compared to the 5-year average.

SLCPD said its goal is to stay focused on improving the quality of life for the people who live in, work in and visit Salt Lake City.

The Department of Public Safety also released crime data from 2019-2020 Tuesday.

From 2019-2020, throughout the state, property crimes went up 6.17 percent, robberies went up 5.78 percent, motor vehicle thefts were up 34.89 percent and homicides increased a staggering 44.16 percent. 

Also, just last week a report released by the FBI showed that there were more victims of violent crimes in Utah in 2020 than any year in the past decade and that the homicide rate was 24% above the 10-year average.

The Utah Sheriff’s Association weighed in on these alarming trends throughout the state, saying:

“Significant staffing shortages across the state is already plaguing law enforcement. Additionally, a recent survey of Utah law enforcement showed that 58% are looking to leave their jobs and switch careers and 64% indicated they would advise their children against a career in law enforcement. These trends are not sustainable. Without an emerging workforce, and with the decline of an existing workforce, crime will continue to increase, and public safety will disappear.”

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