On August 26th, 2009, an obvious push poll conducted by the California-based Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates research firm at the behest of the Salt Lake municipal government showed that 68 percent of respondents supported the proposed new $125 million cop shop to be built in an already overcrowded downtown area. But the intent and purpose of the poll was so transparent that it was widely panned by critics.
Now Utah's "gold standard" of pollsters, Dan Jones, has gotten into the act. Jones, who is more of an independent pollster, asked 212 likely voters if they supported Proposition 1, which is the enabling mechanism to be placed on the ballot this November. The response showed that 60 percent of potential voters back Proposition 1, 25 percent oppose it, and 15 percent don't know. Media stories published by the Deseret News and KSL Channel 5; KSL video embedded below:
If approved at the ballot box during the November 3rd general election, Proposition 1, which would allocate $125 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a Public Safety Building, an underground parking structure and a dedicated Emergency Operations Center at the current site of the Barnes Bank Building on the 400 block of 300 East, would cost the owner of an average $260,000 home $75 more a year in property taxes. More information about Proposition 1 can be found HERE. A $192 million bond for a five-building public safety package including a new police-fire headquarters lost by 261 votes in 2007 after then-Mayor Rocky Anderson sabotaged it at the last moment.
But a KSL viewer poll posted on the story page tells a different story. Out of 121 votes recorded as of this post, 83 are against it (69 percent), 36 are for it (30 percent), and two percent say "they'll know when they vote". This despite the fact that just one week ago, the Utah Taxpayers Association endorsed the $125 million bond proposal.
A new facility is clearly needed. Sewage leaks through the ceiling, other evidence of water damage exists, and Visqueen had to be installed to cover the shelves in the evidence room to keep the evidence from being damaged. The current facility is not up to present earthquake code. Left unanswered is the question as to why the facility was allowed to deteriorate so drastically.
But just because SLCPD may need a new facility doesn't mean they necessarily deserve one at this time. There are also other issues. Back in April, Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank said his department was going to refuse to enforce the controversial SB81 immigration bill. However, his objection wasn't merely economic; there was also political correctness involved. Burbank was concerned that illegal aliens might be scared to report crimes against them to the police. Later on, Rep. Chris Herrod (R-Provo) accused SLCPD of providing misleading information on Salt Lake crime; follow-up indicated that SLCPD was trying to under-represent Hispanic crime.
And now, according to a new Salt Lake Tribune story, it appears that SLCPD is under-reporting and even misreporting crime in the Glendale neighborhood in west Salt Lake. Crimes that are clearly committed by gang members are being classified as ordinary crime. Two unsolved crimes of violence in the area are frustrating residents. In late July, Kristal Flores was outside her Glendale home when a gunshot pierced her head. The 21-year-old died in the hospital two weeks later. Almost two months have passed since Flores' death and police have no suspects in her murder. And on the same July night, another man in his 20s was found shot in the torso near 1300 South and 1400 West, a short distance from where Flores was found. He survived. That, too, remains unsolved. Police claim they're getting no cooperation from the community.
But some Glendale residents complained at a community council meeting on Wednesday September 16th that police are painting a rosy picture of gang crime in the city, when incidents such as the Flores slaying, which neighbors believe is gang-perpetrated, remain unsolved. Earlier this month, a new report released by Salt Lake City police claimed gang activity in the city is not on the rise. The 40-page document titled "2008 Report to the Community" states gang activity in Salt Lake City hasn't seen a significant increase, despite high-profile incidents such as the death of 7-year-old Maria Menchaca, who was killed in front of her Glendale home in July 2008 by a bullet meant for her older cousin. The city recorded 1,136 gang-related offenses in 2008 -- up from 760 such offenses a year earlier, according to the report. The 2008 number is lower than 2004, however, when the city recorded 1,268 gang-related offenses.
And the answer to the question as to why SLCPD is painting a rosier picture of gang crime is political correctness. The Salt Lake cops are afraid of offending the Hispanic lobbies, so they soft-pedal Hispanic gang activity on the west side, because they fear being accused of "profiling". And Chief Chris Burbank is the primary catalyst.
Salt Lakers should send the following message to their city government on November 3rd: You can either have Chris Burbank, or you can have a new cop shop. You cannot have both. SLCPD will not prosecute gang crime more vigorously until the culture of appeasement at the very top of the force is removed. Chris Burbank has got to go.