MIDVALE, Utah — A resident of a neighborhood that is set to undergo some major changes is frustrated about what she believes is a lack of communication.
This week, law enforcement agencies are conducting training exercises inside vacant homes that will eventually be demolished to make room for the expansion of I-15.
Julie Cluff lives across the street from those houses. Tuesday morning she was startled by police activity just feet away from her front door.
“Nothing like making your neighborhood a SWAT situation,” Cluff said. “The cars lined both sides of the street. Just for blocks, full of police and K-9 and SWAT trucks and the great big trucks. It was crazy.”
She claims the only warning she received was an e-mail from UDOT, the owner of the vacant properties, minutes before the drills began.
“It would have been great to have more notice,” Cluff said.
The message warns of, “explosives, glass breaking, smoke from tear gas and battering rams on doors.”
UDOT says the agency conducting the training, in this case, Utah Highway Patrol, alerts residents. The warnings sent by UDOT were in addition to what was sent by UHP.
“We didn’t want anybody to be taken off guard by this,” said John Gleason, UDOT spokesperson. “We thought, more communication would be better than less communication.”
Utah Highway Patrol says troopers attempted to deliver warning fliers to residents on Monday, the day before the training.
“Despite our best efforts, we are not going to get to everyone, and maybe that needs to be reevaluated,” said UHP Sgt. Nick Street. “We did make every effort we could the day before.”
Other police departments, and even the FBI, will hold similar training drills in those abandoned houses later this week.
“This is a public safety tool and its necessary for these teams to get this training and ultimately, it benefits the public,” Street said.
But for residents like Julie Cluff, who aren’t happy with all the changes the neighborhood is undergoing, this is another nuisance that only adds more frustration.
“Tear the houses down and be done with it,” Cluff said. “Let's try to get my neighborhood back to normal. As normal as it can be.”
UDOT anticipates demolition of the vacant homes will begin within the next two weeks.