Pioneer Park cameras helping curb crime

Published: Thursday, Aug. 13 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

A camera system installed in Pioneer Park six months ago has reduced the number of drug-related arrests, police said.

In a statement released Wednesday, officials reported felony drug arrests have "substantially decreased" in the park.

Cameras at the four ends of the park are in plain view to remind visitors they are being watched, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Snyder. Pioneer Park was an obvious choice for cameras because it has long been plagued by crime, with "drugs being the biggest problem," Snyder said.

"Pioneer Park has been a problem for many years, and we've tried a few things and this one really seems to be working," she said.

Snyder said statistics show that the number of calls regarding drug-related crimes placed between February 2007 and August 2007 is almost double the calls placed during that same period this year, dropping from more than 1,000 to about 600. She said the numbers from 2008 were unreliable because the park was closed from January to June.

"We haven't made many drug arrests down there," Snyder said. "What it's lowered most is the drug dealing … we've only arrested two dealers down there so far this year."

The progress in Pioneer Park hasn't come without side effects. Snyder said crime has moved out to other spots around the park.

"Anytime you put pressure on an area, you see the crime move out to other areas," she said. Drug dealing has risen at 200 South, 500 West and 600 West, "but we have our narcotics detectives doing a lot of work down there."

Snyder said officers made 22 arrests in that area Tuesday night, Still, she said, the number of calls there has decreased.

"The numbers aren't as high, so we are still are getting rid of some of the problems, … but we are, and will continue to do, those operations there," Snyder said. "Overall, we believe it's been a success so far."

e-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

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