In an effort to ease some of the fears, tension and frustration Glendale residents have been feeling after the drive-by shooting death of a 7-year-old girl, Salt Lake City police recently conducted an intensive round-the-clock enforcement operation in the area.
Friday, the department released its statistics of the three day saturation effort that began July 11.
Four felony arrests were made, of which three of the suspects were documented gang members, said Salt Lake police detective Jeff Bedard. Sixteen people were arrested for misdemeanors, including two for DUI. Police made 140 traffic stops and issued 39 citations, Bedard said.
In addition, 39 gang members were either documented for the first time or redocumented.
In one of the arrests, officers actually witnessed an aggravated assault, a hit-and-run incident, and were able to chase down the suspect, Bedard said.
"We're happy with the presence we had in the Glendale area. If you look at the number of people we encountered and arrests we made, we definitely had an impact on the quality of life. Hopefully, we were able to contribute to making the area safer for residents."
The slaying of Maria Del Carmen Menchaca prompted outrage among many residents and a call for the city to do something about the gang problem. Police Chief Chris Burbank noted that gangs are not just a Glendale problem, but the recent high profile homicides of Menchaca and the manager of the Family Dollar Store earlier this year have elevated the attention of gang violence in that area.
"They were legitimate fears and concerns," Bedard said. "This is not something we will only do one time and say problem solved. We patrol all parts of the city, not just one area. But from time-to-time, certain areas are more affected than others and we try to give a little extra attention to those neighborhoods."
Bedard said another saturation effort in Glendale will likely happen in the future.
Since the Menchaca shooting, several groups have held community meetings to raise awareness and try to come up with a plan for volunteers to help be the eyes and ears of police.Last fall, a similar saturation effort was held for a week in the area of Pioneer Park following on-going drug issues and a homicide in the park. During that effort, police arrested 658 people.