Social workers might soon join forces with police officers to manage crime on Salt Lake City streets. The city council agreed last night to fund the new positions, and some new police officers.
The city will apply for a federal grant to hire 15 new police officers. The money comes with a requirement that the city fund the positions beyond the life of the grant. With or without that money, the council decided Tuesday to bring on at least eight new bike patrol officers and eight social workers.
Salt Lake City Deputy Chief Krista Dunn says adding social workers to the department is a new concept.
“But we already know somewhat of what that will look like,” Dunn says. “Because right now we’ve got police officers doing that so now we’ll be able to free up those police officers a bit and bring the social workers in to hook these folks up with the resources that they need.”
Councilman Kyle LaMalfa voted against the resolution to request the administration apply for the federal grant. He points out the department didn’t ask for this many additional officers.
“If we were really committed to reducing crime, it wouldn’t be through adding more police,” LaMalfa says. “It would be through adding access to opportunity and education.”
The proposal would require about $1 million in ongoing money and $415,000 in one-time money.
The deadline to apply for the grant is June 19.The city will find out if it is awarded the grant in the fall.
The council has until July 1st to finalize the budget.