Project Safe Neighborhoods leads to drop in crime

Nov 9, 2021, 5:32 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Like many American cities, Salt Lake City has fought a surge in violent crime in recent years.

Last January, the city revived Project Safe Neighborhoods to leverage federal partnerships to bolster that battle.  

City leaders say it’s making a difference, but there’s still work to be done. 

In January Salt Lake City was looking at a 20% year-to-year jump in violent crime. So, the mayor and the police chief launched Project Safe Neighborhoods. 

“The Project Safe Neighborhoods effort is working and it’s making a real tangible difference in Salt Lake City,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall. 

The collaboration with the U.S. Attorney, ATF, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the Unified Police Department and Utah Highway Patrol led to a 1.7% year-to-year drop in overall crime. But, Mendenhall points out there’s no end to this work, especially as the city grows. 

“This is something that we are definitely encouraged by, but still not satisfied,” she said in a joint news conference Tuesday. 

Ten months ago, the police chief said his department re-invigorated relationships with federal agencies that have investigative and prosecutorial resources, and power the city does not.

They have seized sizable amounts of drugs, 124 firearms — 35 of which were taken in October — and charged 152 offenders.

More than half were charged federally with illegal possession of a firearm. 

“That’s less guns in our city and fewer people in possession of a gun who are looking for criminal activity,” the mayor said. 

“There’s an urgent need to stop gun violence. We need to change the attitudes and perceptions of the people who are willing to use firearms as a form of conflict resolution,” said Chief Mike Brown. 

They targeted criminal activity at the felony level, going after apex criminals who are repeat offenders. 

“We need a culture change. We cannot allow gun violence to become normalized,” Brown said. 

The acting U.S. Attorney lamented the fact that already 60 of the individuals charged are out on parole or probation, but she said they are headed in the right direction. 

“Strengthening our partnerships and continuing the work that we’ve already been doing, but focusing on where we need to make some improvements,” said Andrea Martinez, acting U.S. Attorney for Utah. 

Last week, the police chief and the mayor also announced a new 10-member Violent Crimes Task Force they are launching to address the problem. 

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Project Safe Neighborhoods leads to drop in crime