SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to better fight crime in Pioneer Park, the Salt Lake Police Department will launch a Metro Support Bureau.
Some homeless people have said they like the plan.
Stormy Christensen said it didn't take long for him to realize Pioneer Park has problems.
“I've been here three days, and I’m about ready to lie down and say, 'Forget it' It's pretty tough," Christensen said.
"I wouldn't bring kids to this park. From what I've seen, it's not a good park. There are a lot of drugs here — a lot of drugs."
It's not that Christensen really wants to be here, but as someone who is homeless and relies on the shelter next door, he says he really doesn't have anywhere else to go.
“I’ve been in trouble with the law before, but I’m doing my best to live better now,” he said.
Many people seen at the downtown park have already given up. At least a dozen people on a recent warm, spring afternoon were sleeping under trees or in sleeping bags, and just out on the open grass. Some were there because of unfortunate circumstances; others because it’s easy to find drug dealers.
"All these people sitting around, laying around, all strung out on crack cocaine and that Spice," said Terry Hinkle, who says he has been homeless for six months. He admits he did drugs for a time, but now he says he's clean and doing his best to find a job and live better.
"I don't want anybody to hand me a damn thing," Hinkle said. "I want to earn it on my own because I have pride."
Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said about one-third of the crime that occurs in the city takes place in the area from North Temple to 700 South and from I-15 to State Street. The area is also responsible for about 18 percent of the department's service calls.
Tuesday, Burbank announced a plan to open a police bureau at Pioneer Park. The plan will be to staff the bureau with officers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to patrol the area in and around Pioneer Park.
“Man, I don’t have anything against the police. They’re just doing their job,” said Hinkle.
Many people in the park who identified themselves as homeless said having more police officers in the area is a good idea.
They say there is a lot of crime in the area because of all the drugs.
"I'm afraid. I don't want to die of drugs. I'm just trying to live,” said Christensen.
Of course, there are others here who don’t want to see any police.
Hinkle warns it’s those types of people, who sell and buy drugs, that will just go somewhere else.
"It's like if one falls, seven rise,” said Hinkle. “If they bust it and clean it all up, well, then it just gets all spread out."
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