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The City Journals

Beyond Neighborhood Watch: South Salt Lake Police Department Connects With Community In Many Ways

Jun 19, 2019 04:45PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Business owners talk to Officer Chad Keller at a recent Coffee with a Cop event at Délice Bakery.

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Taped on Sergeant Bill Hogan's desk is the saying, "Prevent if possible, enforce when necessary." Hogan heads up the Community Resources Unit of the South Salt Lake Police Department. He and his officers have put into place opportunities to help break down walls and build bridges.

"Our programs have allowed us to build great relationships with residents and businesses," Hogan said. Here are some of these programs:

Bowling with a Cop

If you drive by Bonwood Bowl (2500 S. Main St.) on a third Thursday afternoon of each month, you might think the police are investigating a crime. Nope, they’re bowling.

Under the auspices of the Police Athletic League (PAL), South Salt Lake Cops have been bowling since 1998. With the support of Bonwood Bowl, the program moved in 2016. 

"It gives kids something to do, and they get to know us," Officer Jerry Silva, PAL director, said.

The program is open to kids and teenagers and is free.

A participant at the Bowl with a Cop offers advice to Officer Chase Hermansen. The advice worked since he threw a strike.

Maria Tello has been bringing her two children for two years. She commented, "My boys like first responders. They want to be one. They have lost their fear of police." 

Between bowling strikes, Officer Chase Hermansen said, "Working with the kids is awesome."

Stephanie Koogle, a long-time South Salt Lake resident and a first-time attendee, summed up the point of the initiative.

"There is a big divide. People are afraid of the police. Opportunities like this build better rapport with the police." 

Coffee with a Cop

Coffee with a Cop started about four years ago as a way for residents and businesses to talk with law enforcement in a casual atmosphere.

"They (the police) go out of their way to help you rather than retain you," said long-time attendee and 28-year business owner, Larry Holmes.

After bouncing around for bit after the Village Inn closed, the event has found a new home. The event is held at Délice Bakery (2747 S. State St.) on the first Wednesday at 9 a.m. Often, Police Chief Jack Carruth attends and provides updates to the audience. The audience is about two-thirds business owners and one-third residents.

Business Watch

This event is run with help from the South Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce. The group meets monthly at different locations. The meetings allow business owners to bring their concerns directly to the police. In turn, the department provides crime prevention tips and guest speakers.

"The meetings have become great networking events," Hogan said.

One free service the police department offers to businesses is a CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) survey. Officers use their CPTED expertise to help businesses prevent crime by the way the business looks such as having adequate lighting, security cameras and strong exterior doors.

"It is one of the best things about any business organization," Holmes, the business owner, remarked.

Neighborhood Watch

The neighborhood watch is also administered through the Community Resource Unit. Currently, the city is broken into six zones. However, a large apartment complex can request to be a neighborhood watch group. 

Meetings are held each month in all the zones.

Just like with the Business Watch, officers will visit homes to give specific CPTED suggestions. The service is free. 

If you want information about Neighborhood Watch Meeting, call the Neighborhood Watch Hotline at (801) 412-3668.

Police Athletic (& Activities) League (PAL)

As mentioned, the Bowl with a Cop is a program of PAL. In addition, they have a successful boxing program. They are starting a wrestling program and with cooperation from a local culinary school, a cooking program will start soon.

The PAL Pete Suazo Boxing Gym is located at 2797 S. 200 East. For information about their programs call (801) 412-3650.