Salt Lake City's efforts to crack down on people carrying guns in public parks paid off over the weekend.
An observant Salt Lake police officer arrested two admitted gang members Sunday near the Peace Gardens in Jordan Park, 1000 South and 900 West, after he caught them carrying a gun.
Just before 5 p.m. an officer driving on Fremont Avenue noticed two men in gang attire at the park acting "suspiciously," said Salt Lake police detective Dwayne Baird. The officer stopped to talk to the two and asked if they were carrying any weapons, he said.
The two said "no" and then gave the officer permission to search them. The officer told both men to put their hands on top of their heads, Baird said.
The 18-year-old man complied with the officer's orders but the 17-year-old put only one hand on his head and kept the other near his left pocket. The juvenile then put his hand in his pocket and refused to follow the officer's orders, Baird said.
The officer sternly asked the teen, "What are you doing?" and grabbed the boy's wrist with one hand while drawing his gun with the other. With both gang members now at gunpoint, the juvenile admitted there was a gun in his pocket, Baird said.
The officer ordered the juvenile to let go of the gun immediately, then placed both men in handcuffs.
Baird credited the officer's alertness for first spotting the two in the park and then for seizing the gun. He also noted the arrests were partially due to the department's response to the recent shooting in Liberty Park.
"Our enforcement efforts paid off," he said.
An 18-year-old man was shot in a gang-related incident June 6 at Liberty Park in front of scores of unsuspecting bystanders and families. Mayor Rocky Anderson strongly denounced the shooting and said such acts of violence would not be tolerated.
Baird said not only did police beef up patrols at Liberty Park in response to the incident but patrols at the city's other parks were also increased because officers knew if they pushed gang members out of one area they would go to another.
"We knew these people would be at other parks," he said.There was no evidence Monday connecting the two people arrested with the Liberty Park shooting.
Contributing: Laura Hancock; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org