New metro police bureau attacks crime around Pioneer Park

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Within a few blocks of downtown Salt Lake City, lies the most trouble for the city’s police.

“There are always going to be drug users, drug buyers,” said Det. Greg Wilking of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

From a patrol car, Wilking can spot the crime before it even happens, noting the drug dealers on the move, as well as their buyers waiting nearby.

“There is a core group of people down here that are causing a fair amount of the problems,” Wilking said.

The streets near Pioneer Park and the Depot District have become an all too familiar route for patrolmen over the years, which is why they’ve decided to increase their presence.

Over the last two weeks, the department has reallocated 75 officers there as part of a new bureau, the Metro Support Bureau.  They are tasked with solving a drug and crime problem that only seems to be growing.

“The more presence we have, with more vehicles, the more of a deterrent it is,” Wilking said. “If they don't feel it, if the criminal element that's down here doesn't feel at home, they're going to want to move away from this area.”

The full coverage area of the bureau goes from North Temple to approximately 700 South and from Interstate 15 to State Street.

On Monday afternoon, just off 200 South and 500 West, Officer Dax Shane was making a drug bust to finish out his shift.

“This is my fifth felony arrest today,” Shane said.

This one was for an alleged heroin user. Admittedly an addict of several years, the woman argued she was a victim of much bigger criminals.

“There`s drug dealers who come from other countries and make $7,000 a day here, and they`re going to put me in jail for a year?” she asked.

But Shane countered she is part of the supply and demand chain they`re trying to end.

“She`s engaged in drug activity,” Shane said. “It’s a felony arrest. She`s part of the problem, whether she`s at one end of the ladder or the other.”

The drugs found next to her tested positive for heroin within minutes, and a search underneath a nearby trash barrel uncovered even more.

For officers like Shane, this has become the norm for these few blocks in downtown Salt Lake City, but he`s hopeful it won`t be the area`s future, with a surge of officers working alongside the criminals, stopping the trouble before it begins.

“Me personally, I think we`ll be able to put a dent in it,” Shane said. “I can`t tell you if it`s going to go away or not. I don`t have a crystal ball for that.”

1 Comment

  • Vicki

    Det. Greg Wilking is a very misguided officer. These officers need some training in addiction and fast! This woman needs HELP and needs to get medical treatment! If you want to clean up the area get a team in there that can get the addicts off the street and get them HELP. If you throw someone like that in jail she is going to go through pure hell detoxing and come back out and do the SAME thing. Why, because you have not taken care of the real problem which is ADDICTION. Treating addicts like criminals will never work. Your problem will just move to another area of your city. WAKE UP. You are treating sick people who need medical and mental health treatment as a criminals. You are adding to the Stigma and the very reason people don’t seek . He arrested a sick heroin addict instead of Mexican Cartel or the big dealers that are on the streets in SLC preying on these sick addicts! Shame on the SLC PD for not realizing that we have a heroin epidemic and approaching the problem with some common sense instead of strong arming the people who need their help the most.

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