Salt Lake City Police Chief says homeless resource center squads are making a difference
Oct 26, 2023, 10:30 PM | Updated: 10:31 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown highlighted positive improvements since the inception of the Homeless Resources Center Squads during a news conference on Thursday.
The HRC squads were created thanks to state funding and became fully operational in early July 2023.
The HRC squads, made up of one sergeant and five officers, take calls for service to help patrol officers around both the Gail Miller Resource Center near the Ballpark neighborhood and the Geraldine King Women’s Resource Center downtown.
Chief Brown stated that the two squads are aimed at “improving safety and over-all wellbeing of both the homeless population and the surrounding communities” at or around the centers.
During the news conference, Chief Brown stated the HRC squads had taken nearly 1,400 calls for service, conducted 45 operations to go after criminals, made 250 arrests, and made contact with nearly 3,000 businesses.
“Before almost on a daily basis, I’m kicking somebody off out front that was camped out, out front, or in the back,” Chief Brown said.
Steven Crosby, the general manager of Magnum Electric Bikes located around the corner from the Women’s Resource Center.
Crosby said since the summer he has seen a decrease in unsheltered people around the business and faster response times from officers.
“‘How could you still be down here’, which was kind of the previous response (from customers) now we’re not getting any of that,” Crosby said.
“To better serve these communities we need to have trust,” Chief Brown said. Not just trust with local businesses and residents but those who are unsheltered too.
Chief Brown stated since its inception officers have able to direct or provide resources to nearly 10,000 people in need.
“They’re seeing people day to day and getting to know them as human beings as the human beings that they are,” said Michelle Flynn, executive director of the Road Home which houses the Gail Miller Resource Center. “That adds a whole new perspective when an incident does occur.”
But Flynn said more work needs to be done in the city.
“What this is really about is making sure that we have safe places for people in need and that is so crucial that we have enough of that be we really know, that we need the affordable housing.”
Chief Brown said he hopes to expand the homeless resource squads in the future.