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Unprecedented public safety response launched by
Salt Lake City – Salt Lake County
Police, prosecutors, and behavioral health providers
join forces to both address crime and offer treatment options
Salt Lake City, UT—A joint operation by Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County in the downtown area united law enforcement and behavioral health treatment providers in an effort to immediately affect public health and safety there.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams directed their staffs to collaborate on the effort. Thursday, approximately 100 officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department – under Chief Mike Brown—and Unified Police Department –under Sheriff Jim Winder – acted on joint information to make arrests and transport them to a nearby receiving center. Medical experts screened clients for possible referral to appropriate behavioral health services. Salt Lake County contributed $1.2 million and the city added $150,000 to contract with private drug and alcohol treatment and mental health providers to immediately accept eligible individuals into outpatient, residential or preventive facilities and treatment programs.
Law enforcement officials reported that as of late Thursday afternoon, a preliminary total of 49 individuals were processed through the receiving center.
Public defense lawyers and interpreters were on hand to provide legal counsel. District Attorney Sim Gill oversaw the efforts of county lawyers and city prosecutors to process criminal charges. The law enforcement action is the first time that the city and the county have been able to include diversion to treatment – as an alternative to jail – for those arrested in the downtown area where drug crimes are all too evident to businesses and residents.
All the partners acknowledged that the homeless population and the criminal justice system population have significant overlap, and that criminals often prey on homeless individuals, and that homelessness and criminal justice solutions go hand in hand and must be addressed together.
Both mayors thanked the dedicated men and women in local law enforcement for the professional effort that occurred to plan and implement today’s actions and praised their dedication and collaboration.