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Utah State And Local Government Leaders Hold Meeting To Tackle 'Lawlessness' In Rio Grande District

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A string of recent assaults, including an alleged murder, in Downtown Salt Lake’s Rio Grande District led to a meeting Wednesday between Governor Gary Herbert and other state leaders on how to handle the growing violence.

In July alone, there have been three separate incidents surrounding the Road Home, a homeless shelter located in Downtown Salt Lake. The latest episode left three injured and one dead on Tuesday.

Growing homelessness and violence near Rio Grande has led to heightened frustrations among Salt Lake City, the County and state leaders, prompting the bi-partisan meeting.

The opportunity we’ve had together as stakeholders and elected officials this morning has been very productive and certainly we all understand the challenges, it’s not an easy issue, it’s not an easy fix but I can tell you we’re all committed,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert at the press conference.

Despite increased funding from the legislature to provide additional housing, the homeless situation continues to worsen.

This latest meeting marked the promise of a refocused and consolidated approach by state and local government.

“The executive branch, the legislative branch, the city, the county and even members of the private sector that have contacted us are saying it’s time; we can do better,” said Herbert.

While the governor emphasized the need for more treatment programs, increased reliance on drug courts and more law enforcement, no exact details about the state’s plan were presented.

“There’s details that have to be worked out. But in terms of the lawlessness, we’re not going to lay out, in a public way, the new and ramped up and concerted effort to deal with the lawlessness. Some of that will have to be, practically speaking, done in real-time,” said Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes.