LOCAL NEWS

Utah crime rates are up while officer retention declines

Oct 5, 2021, 10:17 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2021, 10:29 am

SALT LAKE CITY — New numbers released by the Utah Department of Public Safety show a disturbing trend for the state — crime is up, and not just petty crime, which has Utah sheriffs concerned.

Sheriff Chad Jensen with the Cache County Sheriff’s Office said it means more victims and fewer officers.

He puts a lot of the blame on declining support for law enforcement — both from the general public and from law and policymakers.

It’s not lost on anyone that the crime data comes with some unfortunate timing.

“There was a convicted felon that was on probation that was just allowed to walk free,” said Jensen, referring to the man accused of killing University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe, who was a repeat offender.

The sheriff went on to say, “We’ve created a system where defendants have more rights than victims.”

Jensen, who is the president of the Utah Sheriff’s Association, said the numbers should be sobering and indicative of a system that, he says, has gone too soft on crime.

“It’s the George Soros, the cashless bail, the justice reinvestment, the Sentencing Commission,” he said.

According to the DPS, many of the worst crimes shot up between 2019 and 2020, with vehicle thefts up nearly 35% and homicides up 44%.

Adding to the struggle is the number of law enforcement officers on the streets, which continues on a downward trend.

“Law enforcement have vacancies and holes that we’ve never had before,” said Jensen. “We are getting no new blood, so to speak, into public safety, into law enforcement, to come do the kind of work that the public expects law enforcement to do.”

Alexia Ramos feels the shortage firsthand. On June 9, her father, 49-year-old Joseph Salas, was found murdered.

“They just tell me that there’s no more leads,” said Ramos.

His body was dumped in the Jordan River.

“You can just feel the sadness,” said Ramos.

There’s not a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about him.

“He always wanted to see the grandkids,” she said. “Whenever we would visit them both, he would always just spend time with the grandkids.”

Nearly four months after his death, police still don’t know who killed Salas.

“There are thousands and thousands of cases in this state going unreported because agencies can’t take them, don’t have the staffing to take them, won’t be prosecuted if they were to catch the perpetrators,” said Jensen.

Just a few days ago, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall reported there are over 600 open positions in law enforcement in Utah.

Jensen said the shortage puts both the public and officers at risk.

“It’s frustrating right now,” he said.

It’s bad news for people like Ramos, who wants her dad’s case solved.

“It’s kind of hard to see that this world is starting to go down such a rocky road,” she said. “It makes me very scared for my children when they get old and everybody else’s children as well.”

But, Jensen believes there is a solution, which is a big reason why he’s sharing these numbers.

“We need the public to reach out to their legislators, to reach out to their local residents, their local governments, and go on the bandwagon for public safety and law enforcement,” he said.

Jensen said a recent survey also shows that nearly 60% of Utah law enforcement are considering a change in career, adding to the need to recruit more officers.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

FILE: Back-to-school shopping (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Gephardt Busts Inflation: Saving money on back-to-school supplies even with higher prices

With inflation running amok this year, parents are tackling big price hikes on top of the stress. Fortunately, there are ways they can still save money.
9 hours ago
...
Lauren Steinbrecher

Good Samaritan tries to chase hit-and-run suspect in West Valley City who killed 11-year old boy

A witness is recounting trying to follow a hit-and-run driver, after the driver killed an 11-year old boy in West Valley City and took off.
9 hours ago
Salt Lake Police released body camera footage of an incident with Salt Lake Police and Megan Joyce ...
Cary Schwanitz

Death of woman in Salt Lake police custody ruled a homicide, under investigation

The death of a woman restrained by four Salt Lake police officers in January is under investigation by the department’s officer involved critical incident protocol.
1 day ago
(KSL TV)...
Ladd Egan

Economists: Wage growth remains strong but can’t match inflation

The good news is that the upward pressure on wages is expected to continue for a while, the bad news is that the pay increases aren’t enough to match inflation, according to economists with Wells Fargo.
1 day ago
New mom Michelle Jackson had problems breastfeeding little Jason so she called a lactation consulta...
Ayanna Likens

Some moms struggle with breastfeeding, here are some helpful tips

August is breastfeeding awareness month, and for some mothers who want to breastfeed, it doesn’t come easy. Intermountain Healthcare shares some tips on how to help.
1 day ago
Organizers gathered enough school supplies to fill 5,000 backpacks for Utah's refugee children. (KS...
Mike Anderson

How you can help Utah’s refugee children with school supplies

Thousands of refugee children in Utah now have new backpacks filled with all the essentials for their first day of school.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Utah crime rates are up while officer retention declines