Utah police departments see spike in violent crime this year
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Police departments across the country, and here in Utah, have seen spikes in violent crime this past year.
The Salt Lake City Mayor and Police Chief today shared their 2021 Crime Control Plan in a media roundtable discussion. They admit that police service in Salt Lake City was not up to the standards that they expect, or the community expects. But, they also pointed to improvements already happening, and included as part of the plan.
“It was a difficult year. I won’t sugarcoat it,” said Police Chief Mike Brown.
The most immediate problems include a 10% annual rise in violent crime, a 20% rise in 9-1-1 calls, unprecedented staffing shortages and low morale.
“Despite the setbacks, this organization has come together, and our biggest achievement in 2021 is overcoming those issues and concerns of 2020,” Brown said.
Police data shows short term improvements, and the crime plan includes innovative approaches to make further improvements.
“Here in Salt Lake City, we’re seeing a decrease in overall crime,” Said Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “But, we are continuing to see a rise in certain types of crime, violent crime included.”
In the last four weeks, overall crime is down nearly 30%, while violent crime has risen in some neighborhoods.
“We are encouraged by the plan we have. We’re encouraged by the data we’re going to share with you today,” the mayor said. “But, I’ll tell you that were still unsatisfied.”
The police department will launch a 10-officer violent crimes task force.
“This will be huge, because it won’t be constricted to a beat, or an area, it will be citywide,” Brown said.
The overall goals of the plan are to lower crime, improve response times, fill funded and unfunded sworn positions, and continue building community relationships.
Staffing hit an all time low in June, and there are still 55 openings. But applications are up due to recruiting incentives that include a pay raise, and possible housing and take-home vehicle incentives in the future.
“The morale was low,” Brown said of his department earlier in the year. “But, the strength of this organization is those officers. They stayed with us. They’re still here today, and everything that we have thrown to them and they are in her raises, has been a Godsend.”
The mayor and the chief agree they need to keep working at these issues with leaders in the department every day to continue to see improvement. But, they’re encouraged by the improving data and hope the community will begin to feel it.
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