Even as Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker insisted the west side of Salt Lake City is a good place to live, he conceded Saturday that political, community and law enforcement leaders need to devote more resources and attention to the area.
"The condition of our infrastructure is not as good on the west side," the mayor said.
Becker and other leaders spoke to residents during the "Saturday Morning with the Mayor" event at Mestizo Coffee House, 631 W. North Temple, specifically addressing concerns stemming from the spate of violence that has rocked the Glendale area.
In the aftermath of a drive-by shooting that left a young girl dead and a separate incident in which a store manager was shot and killed, Becker said he is committed to making Glendale and other west-side communities safer.
While recent "saturation" patrols can be effective, even police leaders are concerned that as the memories of the shootings fade, efforts to curtail crime will dissipate as well.
Salt Lake Police Assistant Chief Terry Fritz said that is unacceptable stressing that police and neighbors should remain vigilant. Part of that vigilance, he added, begins with Neighborhood Watch programs that need to remain active and thriving over a sustained period of time. Communities are at the center of effective Neighborhood Watch programs, not the police, Fritz said.
Officers, though, should get back to their roots of community policing, getting to know residents and earning their trust, Fritz said.
"We're not reinventing the wheel," Fritz said, but going back to a time when community policing was the rule, not the exception.
One woman did complain about a lack of response by police in her neighborhood, saying she has witnessed drug deals, public urination and other criminal activity. When she calls, however, she said the response has been lackluster, if at all.
"I can't even do gardening because of the hypodermic needles in my yard," she said.
Fritz told the woman her complaint merits looking into and urged residents to keep reporting crimes. Other issues brought up Saturday included the need for more programs for kids.
Ironically, Becker's meeting to discuss crime concerns came on the heels of another west-side shooting that left two people in serious condition.Salt Lake Police Lt. J.R. Nelson said a gunman shot at partygoers at about 1:45 a.m. in a backyard near 1300 West and Wasatch Avenue. Two people, Nelson said, were hit in the leg and taken to Intermountain Medical Center in serious condition. Police ended up calling out the K-9 unit, which tracked multiple people to a garage. Six, all said to be gang-affiliated, were arrested, including three juveniles, Nelson said.
Contributing: Jennifer Francis E-mail: email@example.com