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Some Salt Lake Residents say Operation Rio Grande Moved Problems into Their Neighborhood

Some Salt Lake Residents say Operation Rio Grande Moved Problems into Their Neighborhood (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) On Friday night, residents from communities in Salt Lake's west side, gathered to tell local and state leaders that they feel less safe since the start of Operation Rio Grande.

"We are being inundated with things that are bad," Glendale Resident Lorraine Hill said.

Since the operation, shes seen drugs, crime and homelessness out of downtown, moving to west side neighborhoods.

Several residents at the community meeting, said they've seen drug needles around their properties and they've seen homeless people and addicts camping in their neighborhoods and parks.

Christopher Ruelas, a resident of Rose Park, said he took his kids to the park recently and saw needles, feces and homeless people when they arrived.

"My kids don't need to see that," he said.

Ruelas said he was happy to hear about Operation Rio Grande at first knowing something had to be done to make the downtown area safer, but he didn't anticipate all the problems that would result in his neighborhood.

Many people at the meeting said they want police to provide more protection for them, but they also want something done to help people who are homeless.

"We need to have affordable housing so they can get into a job," Geraldine Grimsdell, who has lived in Glendale since 1963, said.

Still, she feels like she has no power over the homeless people who are camping around her house.

"What are our rights as homeowners? What do we have to put up with?", she asked.

Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown and Commissioner Keith Squires of the Utah Department of Public Safety also attended the meeting.

Brown told residents to call police as soon as they see something threatening or suspicious in their neighborhoods.

Some people said police have been promptly responding to their calls.

Squires stated, since Operation Rio Grande, 629 people have been taken to jail.

"It's going to take a while to abolish the drug and crime problem in the area." House Speaker Greg Hughes said. Huges said the operation will last two years.

Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski asked for patience.

"Please stick with us. This isn't easy for any of us but at the end of this I feel confident we will all land in a place that we will be grateful for,".

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