Gunnison police report spike in incidents,

many by transients from Salt Lake City

 

By Robert Green

Guest writer

Apr. 5, 2018

 

CENTERFIELD—Crime from the big city has trickled into rural Utah, causing a spike in incident reports for the newly formed Gunnison Valley Police Department (GVPD).

A crackdown on crime in the Rio Grande District of Salt Lake City has driven transient people to smaller towns, said Keith Garff, chairman of the Gunnison Valley Public Safety Board, which oversees the GVPD.

In its first year of operation, the GVPD reported 815 incidents from November 2016 to November, 2017. This compares to 583 incidents reported the previous year by both the Gunnison and Centerfield Police Departments before they were combined into a single unit.

“We had a lot of calls associated with transients moving out of Salt Lake Lake Valley to the smaller towns,” said Garff, as he reported on the release of the first GVPD Department Incident Activity Report at the Centerfield City Council Meeting, March  7. “That’s gobbled up some of our resources to take care of these incidents.”

However, not all the reported incidents are related to increased crime: Garff mentioned the reporting standards at the GVDP are better now. Before unification, some of the officers were not keeping up on all of their reports. All incident reports that were previously incomplete have been completed and entered into the computer system, Garff said.

The jump in police activity was also due to a step-up in public service calls, Garff said. There were 116 public service calls, where officers were out in the community helping people and making safety presentations. The officers help with lockouts and Boy Scout projects.

“The thing about public safety is they’re out doing a lot of things you don’t see behind the scenes,” Garff said.

Garff mentioned the crime rate crime will likely taper off as local police crack down and drive transients, many of them drug users, and drive them out of the area and possibly out of state.

Garff praised the performance of GVPD Chief Brett McCall. “He’s on budget, he’s on task. Everything’s what he said it would be,” the board chairman said.

Since the formation of the new department, McCall has closed all open cases except two murders at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. And it might take many years to solve those crimes, Garff said.

The GVPD board chairman also said McCall had increased coordination and communication among officers in the department.

“Under the previous administration, there were never any meetings with the officers,” Garff said. Now the whole department meets together at least weekly. “And so if there’s an incident at the school with one of the students, and an officer outside the school has the same issue…, it’s coordinated so (Carl) Winner (the school resource officer) is updated on what this kid has been doing outside of the school.”