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Salt Lake City's battle against a fledgling gang presence in the city isn't getting any easier - so Mayor Palmer DePaulis wants $50,000 to continue funding the police department's anti-gang team.

Police Chief Michael Chabries will brief the City Council Thursday night on the need to re-fund the department's Gang Task Force, convened last summer and kept active into September.Police believed the beginning of the school year and the coming of winter this fall would cause gang activity in Salt Lake City to slacken.

"We have found that not to be the case, and in fact, have seen the opposite occur," DePaulis said in a Dec. 4 letter to City Council Chairman Willie Stoler.

"We are noting daily an increase of gang violence and criminal activity. In addition, we are seeing gangs increasing their membership and recruiting from other locations to move to the Salt Lake area," DePaulis wrote.

Consequently, DePaulis will ask the council to agree to look in city coffers for an additional $50,000 to fund the gang unit. The money could come from the city's $212,000 contingency in its $82 million general fund budget, he said.

DePaulis said the gang unit has been an effective force against gang activity in the city. He cited more than 100 arrests made by the anti-gang team in August and September, nearly 300 field card identifications and more than 400 follow-up contacts.

Stoler said he expects support for the funding from the council. "I don't think any of the council members want anything to get out of hand," he said.

Councilman Wayne Horrocks frequently has expressed concern about crime rates in his district and the city at large. Horrocks said he wants to support the gang unit.

"Frankly, I think it's mandatory," Horrocks said.

"If we're going to control the gang problem . . . I think we need to get at it when it's in its relative infancy," he said.

The money would go toward funding for additional officers on an overtime basis. Five thousand dollars would be used for training, including sending officers to other cities confronting gang problems.

"The Gang Task Force will work closely with prosecution, schools, community groups, probation, corrections and local business groups," DePaulis said in the letter.


(Additional information)

Task force results

Gang Task Force efforts in August and September resulted in:

-93 misdemeanor arrests

-21 felony arrests

-46 traffic citations

-293 field card identifications

-423 follow-up contacts

-13 on-view cases (crimes reported by police officers, rather than members of the public)