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Six Months Into Operation Rio Grande, Leaders Tout Successes

Nicole Nixon/KUER
From left to right: Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, House Speaker Greg Hughes, Rich Deprez, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

Operation Rio Grande, the drug and crime crackdown in Salt Lake City began six months ago and the blighted neighborhood outside The Road Home shelter is virtually transformed. 

Since August, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says more than 800 people have gained access to behavioral health care through Medicaid expansion. Salt Lake County added nearly 200 new treatment beds and a new specialty drug court has more than 70 clients.

Rich Deprez is a recovering drug addict. He had been commuting from Provo to Salt Lake City where he relapsed.

“When Operation Rio Grande started it was harder and harder to get,” Deprez says. “It made it extremely difficult for people coming from Utah County to get drugs. It costed more time. More money, once that presence was downtown. Which is why I believe we’ve got to keep going.”

The program’s initial goal was to restore public safety in the Rio Grande neighborhood to provide a better environment for clients at The Road Home.

Officials announced Monday new online dashboard to track how many people have been arrested, treated and housed.  

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