SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert addressed the issues in the Rio Grande district of Salt Lake City during his monthly press conference Thursday.
Herbert said the first order of business is to actively crack down on crime, and he set a timeline of one year to do it.
“We recognize that there’s a problem there,” he said. “It’s the highest area of crime in the entire state: That’s not acceptable."
The governor says cleaning up Pioneer Park and the Rio Grande area of Salt Lake City isn't going to come easy. But he says the state will do whatever it takes to get it done, and soon.
“We can define success I think by saying when we can have people walk down to Pioneer Park, families with young children go there and enjoy the beauty of that area, when people can shop at the stores and …feel comfortable and safe with what’s taking place in that area," Herbert said.
To make that possible, the governor says they are going to increase police presence. And they won’t just crack down on drug related crimes and violence, but also smaller, less frequently enforced crimes like vagrancy and public drunkenness.
Herbert said it won't just be about jail time, but helping people help themselves by providing them with jobs, health or drug addiction treatments, and a safe place to stay until they can gain control of their lives.
“We want to make sure we’re respecting the humanity of the people who are out there, and their civil rights need to be protected,” Herbert said.
Gov. Herbert recently appointed Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to oversee a fresh, collaborative effort between state, city, and county leaders and law enforcement.
And he says they can't waste any time.
“I look forward to some day, a year from now, playing tennis on that tennis court in Pioneer Park,” Herbert said.