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Legislature Funds Operation Rio Grande Through January

Whittney Evans / KUER

Utah lawmakers have unanimously approved a funding bill to keep Salt Lake’s downtown crime sweep, dubbed Operation Rio Grande, going through the end of the year. Lawmakers met during a special session of the legislature Wednesday to hammer out the details of the bill.

The deal they struck authorizes the Department of Workforces Services to spend $4.9 million on the law enforcement crackdown, which has led to more than 1000 arrests near Salt Lake City’s homeless shelter.  Many of those arrested are now in drug court for treatment.

Republican Representative Brad Wilson sponsored the bill. He praised his colleagues for recognizing homelessness and drug addiction as a Utah issue. He also called out lawmakers who were hesitant to spend state money on the problem.

“This is something that we’re all in together,” he said. “And we have a responsibility as lawmakers for the entire state of Utah at times to rally around specific issues that effect specific regions. The specific issue might be in your district next.”

Lawmakers also authorized the closing of Rio Grande Street to create a so-called safe zone for people getting services. 

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