Governor to call special session on ‘Operation Rio Grande’ issues next week

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert will call Utah lawmakers into special session next week to deal with issues related to the crisis in the Rio Grande neighborhood.

FOX 13 has confirmed the special session is set for next Wednesday, when lawmakers will already be at the Capitol for the interim session.

The state is expected to assert more of a role over Rio Grande Street. Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski recently authorized a temporary closure of part of the street as part of the ongoing crackdown on crime in the area. FOX 13 is told the legislature will vote on methods to make that closure more permanent, as “Operation Rio Grande” continues.

Rio Grande Street as police clear it out as part of a crackdown on crime. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

The closure is meant to create a “safe zone” for people experiencing homelessness, so they are not preyed upon by drug dealers and other criminals that have plagued the area.

Hundreds have been arrested in the crackdown on drugs and violence in the neighborhood surrounding the downtown homeless shelters. Authorities insist their actions are making the neighborhood safer while rounding up the criminal element that preys on people experiencing homelessness.