Residents note increase in camping along Jordan River Parkway amid ‘Operation Rio Grande’

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-30 20:17:55-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY -- Dominique Martinez comes to the Jordan River Parkway all of the time.

"It’s always been a good place for me to come clear my mind, you know? I love the walk. I love walking next to the Jordan trail," Martinez said.

However, it hasn't been the best place to clear her mind lately.

"I’ve noticed a lot more garbage," she said. "I've noticed there are more people sleeping on the sides of the river."

Littered with sleeping bags, tents, and people's belongings: Its clear people have been camping here. Martinez thinks it's been worse the past few weeks since the launch of "Operation Rio Grande."

"People are looking for a place to live and this is like the closest thing they've got," Martinez said.

Det. Robert Ungricht, Salt Lake City PD, says this is something they expected.

"When this operation was developed and planned, we expected some of this to happen where people would vacate the area around the Rio Grande district and move to other areas," Ungricht said.

However, they need the public to get involved.

"If people are seeing it and they're seeing people experiencing homelessness walking through their neighborhoods to please reach out to us so we can go out and address that," Ungricht said.

"Operation Rio Grande" has the resources and the personnel to re-route officers when a call is made, and you can make that call anytime.

"The operation runs 24/7, so even if people are seeing it at three in the morning they can reach out to us," Ungricht said.

So if you see people camping out or experiencing homelessness along the Jordan River Parkway or anywhere in Salt Lake City, call 801-799-3000.

Martinez’s heart goes out to the homeless, but she is missing the peaceful scenery of her favorite trail.

"It’s honestly really sad that these people don't have a place to go," she said.

The Salt Lake County Health Department is in charge of cleaning up the area. They cleaned it up on July 31 and plan to get back out here and clean it again in the next few weeks. The Salt Lake County Health Department says they typically try to clean the Jordan River Parkway every three weeks.