Inside the heart of Operation Rio Grande

A mobile command unit sits behind the Rio Grande Depot on 500 West (Photo: Daniel Woodruff / KUTV)

(KUTV) During the first eight days of Operation Rio Grande in Salt Lake City, officers have made 423 arrests, according to new numbers released Tuesday by the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Of those numbers, several dozen people have been booked on felony charges while the majority were arrested for misdemeanor crimes.

All that police activity is planned and coordinated out of one place –- a mobile command center parked prominently behind the Rio Grande Depot on 500 West.

Every aspect of the operation is run out of the Department of Public Safety truck, which sits with lights flashing.

“We have dispatchers, we've got intel analysts,” said Utah Highway Patrol Major Jess Anderson. “When we're working over 100 shifts a day, you can imagine when all that information comes back to one central place.”

The DPS mobile command unit, which is about seven years old, is typically used only rarely. But it's in Rio Grande for the long haul.

“This operation is 24-7,” said Anderson. “We're going to be here and we're established.”

It's attracting attention including from Utah’s governor and House speaker. The two toured the unit Monday.

“We went to the mobile command center and saw that the law enforcement is really surgically looking for those drug traffickers,” Hughes told 2News.

Hughes called the mobile base of command part of a “sustained operation” to weed out drug dealers and help the homeless.

Operation Rio Grande is set to last two years. Police promise they're not going anywhere, and they hope the mobile command unit shows that.

“We want to have a presence known,” Anderson said.

Ironically, the truck was paid for with seized drug money –- the very thing police are looking for on the streets of Rio Grande.

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