PROVO – An increase of people living along the Provo River is causing safety concerns, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Department.
When police pushed the homeless population out of the Pioneer Park area in downtown Salt Lake City, some migrated to Provo Canyon and built shelters.
“Within these camps that you find in the canyon, you find large piles of human feces and waste,” said Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie. “These pose a significant risk to the waterways that they’re adjacent to, putting our drinking water system at risk.”
Additionally, there’s a high amount of crimes associated with these camps. As you go into the camps, you’ll find bike parts, smart phones, wallets and clothing that are most likely stolen.
“It’s kind of hard to see someone do these things in a public area where a lot of people come out here to see the falls and everything, and also children,” said John Cave, a Provo Canyon recreationalist.
One solution to this issue is increasing the presence of the police along the trails.
“Motorcycle officers are able to go up and down the trail system that a lot of these camps are connected to. So this gives them more of a active community policing effort,” said Commissioner Ivie.
Some of the people camping out in Provo Canyon aren’t criminals. In fact, most of them are just trying to find a place to live, and the Utah County Sheriff’s Department is trying to help them find that shelter.
“It’s essential that we have more conversations and discussions in finding more affordable housing in the county, better homeless shelters, connecting our nonprofit services to one another and to these people to make sure their human basic needs are met,” said Commissioner Ivie.
Efforts to minimize the camps must be coordinated and used by the whole county to make sure the problem isn’t moved to another neighborhood.