Salt Lake police have been complaining for months that the city's emphasis on providing shelter and jobs for transients is attracting waves of such types to Utah.
But what really angers police, who say they are lacking manpower, is that some of these transients are shipped to Utah with the aid of officials from surrounding states.Take the Robert L. Nichols case.
Nichols, a native Idahoan, was arrested last month in Blackfoot, Idaho, for public intoxication. After pleading guilty to the charge, he served a few days in the Bingham County, Idaho, Jail.
Then, on May 18, Nichols told Magistrate Robert Brower that he should be released from jail so he could go to an alcohol treatment program in Provo.
The magistrate agreed and ordered Bingham County Probation Officer Clayton Neeman to procure transportation for Nichols, who was declared by the court as an indigent.
Neeman got a $46 check from the welfare office and put Nichols on a bus for Provo.
But Nichols got off in Salt Lake City. Police arrested him Wednesday in the employee lounge in ZCMI. According to a police report, Nichols was intoxicated, was eating employees' doughnuts and coffee and was "loud and obnoxious."
Nichols indicated to officers that there really was no program in Provo that he was going to.
Neeman said he did not verify that a program existed for Nichols but that he was just following the orders of Brower.
Brower told the Deseret News he couldn't recall if he verified that the program Nichols wanted existed or that Nichols would be accepted.
In fact, no one contacted by the Deseret News could say whether any treatment program exists in Utah that would accept Nichols.
Brower said, however, that it is rare that he orders someone sent to another state for treatment.
"I think the judge just took (ichols') word for it," said Neeman. "I kind of wondered about it myself. I think they verified it but I'm not sure. All I was ordered to do was arrange for (ichols) to get to Provo."
Tanner, whose Police Association colleagues are picketing City Hall over this and other grievances, said officers are sick of having to arrest drunks who came to Salt Lake City from other states.
The number of public intoxication reports has steadily increased in recent months, according to statistics.
"We need more manpower. But the mayor's not listening. There's no way he can argue with this, though," Tanner said, referring to documents regarding the Nichols case.