Winder Calls for Less Criticism on Crime Plan

By McKellar, Katie | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), April 5, 2017 | Go to article overview

Winder Calls for Less Criticism on Crime Plan


McKellar, Katie, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


By Katie McKellar

Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY - In the days since Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder introduced a 21-point plan to tackle homeless and crime issues in the Rio Grande neighborhood, he says he's only heard criticisms - not solutions.

That included the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah expressing concerns about the constitutionality and effectiveness of the plan, which includes reducing the size of the 1,100-bed Road Home on Rio Grande Street and establishing a city-managed "urban campsite."

Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke also issued a statement last week calling the plan an apparent "attempt to divert attention away from the failure in responsibility to provide adequate jail space" and Winder's "overly restrictive jail booking policies."

So when Winder learned Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown said Tuesday some aspects of the plan are "immoral" or "illegal" - while other aspects have already been attempted by Salt Lake City police - the sheriff was left a little ruffled.

"My job as an elected official is to promote policies and initiatives. I'm fine with taking criticism about these policies, but jeez," he said. "All I'm asking the city to do is lose the personal vitriol and recognize that the community up here needs them to engage and engage now."

Winder said his plan is simply the compilation of ideas that have been included in discussions with stakeholders - including Salt Lake City - over the past two years, and he meant it to be a starting point for "substantive action" now, before the drug- and crime-riddled atmosphere on Rio Grande Street flares up again.

His plan is meant to address issues while Salt Lake City waits for three new homeless shelters to be built.

"If they want to propose a management alternative, let's do that rather than find the flaws with this particular proposal," the sheriff said. "There needs to be a re-engagement of a legitimate professional conversation. Nothing gets done here if we're going to sit across the border and throw stones at each other."

Winder's comments came after he attended a meeting with the Pioneer Park Coalition - a group of businesses, property owners and community leaders in the Rio Grande area.

During the same meeting, the coalition - which has endorsed Winder's plan - voted to urge Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County leaders to sit down and discuss the ideas by April 12 in order to formulate a workable plan.

If that meeting doesn't happen by then, the coalition will organize a summit with the city and county leaders to come up with solutions, the coalition agreed.

"Until we can get them together and we can sit down and talk back and forth and have an open professional dialogue, we will be stuck in a rut that will never get fixed," said Scott Howell, a member of the coalition.

Jason Mathis, director of the Downtown Alliance - another Salt Lake City business group - said although he has some concerns with certain aspects of Winder's plan, some new action needs to be taken before problems worsen as temperatures rise. …

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