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Mayor unveils plan to tackle crime near homeless shelters

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah ) - Crime is on the rise near homeless shelters and the mayor plans to deal with the issue.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – Mayor Ralph Becker hopes this latest effort will solve the problem of crime near the city’s homeless shelters and Pioneer Park.

“Our approach is to connect those in need while addressing crime,” says Mayor Ralph Becker.

In the past week, police claim there were 38 arrested on suspicion of possessing or distributing drugs.

That's why the mayor put together a group to tackle a problem along the city’s Rio Grande corridor that won't go away. There's been past efforts but he admits crime near the homeless shelter is on the rise.

“In recent months we have seen a deterioration I think of the success of that effort,” says Mayor Becker.

His plan is to make it tough on dealers. Example, removing hiding places on a median strip at 500 West and 300 South to prevent drug deals.

There will be more police hitting the streets and going undercover.

“The caution should be for anyone to engage in this activity is you may be interacting with an undercover police officer and the result will be jail time potentially,” says police Chief Chris Burbank.

There will also be so called clean teams who will pick up trash. It’s a welcome sight for business owners.

josh fisher, four horseman sales: “The area is a place I'm used to cleaning up on my own every two weeks to a month,” says Josh Fisher who owns a business near 500 West. “This spring it just hit terminal capacity. I just couldn't keep up with it. I kind of gave up.”

Executive director of Art Access Sheryl Gillilan says the homeless aren’t the problem, but it’s the drug dealers that frequent the area.

“I am not afraid of homeless people,” says Gillilan. “I am afraid of the activity that happens around those people and the drug deals that go down constantly.

Mayor Becker says there will be efforts to make it safer for the homeless. He says the shelters will remain open throughout the day and more security will be added inside the shelters.
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