SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - After a month of Operation Rio Grande, leaders say they're happy with the success they've seen so far in reducing crime and making the area safer. Leaders know there is still a lot of work to be done over the next two years.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said he's happy to see an increase in traffic to local businesses. He attributes that to people feeling safer. Something that wasn't the case just weeks earlier.
"I've been down in the Rio Grande area at times when you did not feel safe," said Mayor McAdams. "When you walk the streets and wonder if something could happen at any time, and it's very different today."
Part of the success has been the opening of more jail beds which authorities said has allowed them to keep criminals behind bars which would have normally been released.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the major success has also come on the treatment side. She notes it will take time to notice the full effects.
"I think we're going to be successful it just takes some time, and it takes some patients," said Sheriff Rivera. "What we are doing is trying to help those that do not need to be in jail."
Part two of the operation got underway last week and begin the process of opening up treatment beds for addicts, and those needing mental health services. There are expected to be 250 extra beds opened up by the end of the year.
Mayor McAdams notes there will still be homeless people in the area, but he hopes that's because people feel after coming to the area to access services.
"There are still homeless people in that area, but that's by design," said Mayor McAdams. "This is the place where people who are vulnerable and need help should come to receive services."
The third part of the operation includes job and training opportunities, and is expected to start shortly. Operation Rio Grande will continue for two years until the resource centers are built and open for business.
Mayor McAdams said they've seen how much extra jail beds and more importantly treatment centers have been needed. He hopes to find a way the county can continue to fund those even beyond two years.
One of the major complaints from communities the homeless camps popping up around the Wasatch Front. Many worry the problem is only moving elsewhere. Authorities said they expected this and are working on the problem.
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