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Triple police presence near shelter appeared to slow crime, officers say

Salt Lake police dramatically increased their presence in the Rio Grande area over the weekend.
Salt Lake police dramatically increased their presence in the Rio Grande area over the weekend.
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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake police dramatically increased their presence in the Rio Grande area over the past several days.

Between 20 and 25 Salt Lake police officers were reassigned from other areas to patrol the area around the downtown homeless shelter from Friday night until Tuesday night, tripling the department's presence, said Salt Lake police detective Robert Ungricht.

The move was in reaction to three homicides in two weeks around the shelter area:

• Aug. 3 — A 32-year-old man was shot and killed in the area of 200 South and 500 West.

• July 26 — Shawn Manymules, 26, was found shot to death on the west side of Pioneer Park.

• July 25 — One man was killed and three others were injured when Kepedro Dedrick Kegler, 42, randomly attacked people, police said. At least two of the victims, including the man who died, were attacked with a 53-pound paver stone.

Exact statistics were still being compiled Wednesday, but there was noticeably less criminal activity around the shelter area over those days, Ungricht said.

"There's hardly been any problems there," he said.

Whether that could be directly attributed to the increased police presence was unknown, Ungricht said, but noted, "It looks like it had some kind of effect."

No overtime shifts were used for the increased presence, he said, and the officers who were reassigned either came from traditionally "slower" areas of the city, and some, including motor officers, were told to stay in the Rio Grande area.

The staffing levels in that area were back to normal Wednesday, Ungricht said, but the department's mobile command unit was scheduled to remain in the area as officers continue to "monitor" the situation and determine how to "deal with any problems that arise."