Opioid addiction in Utah: Can the battle be won?

Story and slideshow by RYKER JACKSON

Bradley Hieb had been using drugs since high school. After becoming addicted to opioids, his marriage fell  apart and his children were taken from him twice. The first time was for a month, the second time for seven months. His addiction to opioids escalated. The third time he was found using opioids, his children were taken from him and nearly put up for adoption. That was when he went to detoxification.

Don C. was nearly sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. Don, a young, successful businessman from the Bay Area, had been involved in illegal practices to satisfy his desires for opioids. This landed him in jail a few times, where he would continually ask for opioids, his drug of choice, even from behind bars. This addiction became so all-consuming  that he thought about jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge on more than one occasion. He was given one more chance by a parole officer.

It is no longer a secret that the nation is facing an epidemic: opioid addiction. Utah is among the states hardest hit. The opioid crisis cost the United States $504 billion in 2015.  On Oct. 26, 2017, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency: “Ending the epidemic will require mobilization of government, local communities, and private organizations. It will require the resolve of our entire country.”

Utah has the seventh highest drug poisoning death rate in the nation, according  to the Utah Department of Health. Utah is also home to a wide array of treatment centers. Cory Markisich, executive director of Wasatch Recovery Treatment Center in Cottonwood Heights, said Utah has some of the best addiction treatment facilities in the country. So, what is the best treatment? What works? Markisich said that group therapy is the best solution.

Group therapy capitalizes on peer support from others who are facing similar trials all while being guided by a professional counselor. The support felt by those who are going through the same situations and struggles is the largest benefit of the program. “The problem is usually something else. They are trying to cover something up,” Markisich said. Group therapy helps counselors and patients both to understand what that personal trial is, and how it can be solved without the use of opioids.

Markisich, who studied finance and social work at the University of Utah, has been with Wasatch Recovery for five years. He is aware of some of the unique struggles faced in the Beehive state.

“In Utah, we have a weird dynamic where we have strong LDS culture and there’s a lot of guilt and a lot of shame, more so than you get in other areas,” Markisich said. “Most of the people that I’m treating, they’re not coming in for alcohol and cocaine. What’s happened is they were given a prescription, and it’s not against the Word of Wisdom to take their prescription, but they are completely abusing that prescription,” he said. The Word of Wisdom  is the health code of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which prohibits illegal and harmful substances.

“They’re great people, what’s happened is they’ve just spiraled out of control,” he said. Markisich said that often the substances are abused to treat depression or anxiety. Patients may be taking opioids for their back, only to soon realize that it helps treat their depression. This leads to dependency and addiction.

Markisich and his colleagues do not tell their patients that using drugs is bad. What he tries to do, and what it is massively more successful, is getting to the root of their addiction, whether that be depression, anxiety, or something else entirely.

He said that sometimes people have a hard time understanding recovery. Often, he needs to tell his patient’s husband, wife, or parents that recovery is not like taking a car in to get repaired. Solving an addiction is not like getting an oil change. It requires time and consistent effort to avoid relapse.

Markisich said the addictions affect people mentally and emotionally. They suppress painful memories for people, and provide temporary respite from daily stresses. It is in the resolution of those painful memories and daily stresses that the addiction is more fully overcome, and not only in the physical time one refrains from the substance abuse.

Treatment begins with detoxification, then often moves into a full-time residential program at a recovery center. Such was the case with Hieb. He was in Odyssey House’s residential program for 23 months. Then the patients can move down to part-time treatment, which is usually five hours a day for five days a week. This leads to the patients becoming more independent and attending  meetings such as group therapy sessions. This allows for their environment to slowly get larger until they can handle daily life again.

Hieb said it is critical for patients to detox completely from opiates in a structured environment as quickly as possible. Hieb said recovery is a process, and is most effective when patients move from multiple services to fewer over time, like he did.

Markisich agrees, saying there is no cookie-cutter solution to the problem for every patient.

Hieb’s life has changed a great deal since his initial detox. “If I didn’t burn my last bridge, I don’t know if I would have ever made it,” he said. He was able to retain custody of his children and is now the program director at New Roads Behavioral Health in Cottonwood Heights. “The reason I am a director is because of my passion for the therapeutic community.”

Don C., who asked to remain anonymous because not all of his family knows about his past, has had a similarly remarkable recovery. He came to Wasatch Recovery as a client in November 2016. He now works in detoxification and said he gets to see people at their worst. He said he knows how to help them because he has been in the same situation himself.

Wasatch Recovery’s motto is fitting for anyone seeking treatment options: Instill hope, teach resilience, and achieve recovery.

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Operation Rio Grande may not be prepared, or be the answer, for homeless addicts

Story and Photos by HOLLY VASIC

SALT LAKE CITY – Operation Rio Grande is ready to begin helping homeless addicts as part of its “Phase 2.” Law enforcement agencies are well into the first phase of pursuing active criminals from the area. As part of Phase 2, certain treatment centers have received funding to expand, but clinicians in the addiction field say this is not the answer and infrastructure does not exist to support the client load.

Sit in on any Salt Lake Area 12-step meeting and sooner or later references to “The Block” will be heard. The Block is the nickname for the area between 200 S. and 400 S. on Rio Grande St. in Salt Lake City’s downtown, where illegal substances pass fluidly from dealers to users. Operation Rio Grande is currently attempting to eradicate the drug trade from The Block and the questionable activities that seem to come with it.

Rio Grande

The Rio Grande street sign on a grey Sunday, November 26, 2017, in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City District 6 Vice Chair, Charlie Luke, explained that the city, county, and state of Utah are working together on the operation, SLC is largely responsible for the “on the ground” efforts. “We can fund law enforcement, we can fund cleanup down there, we can do a lot with the zoning. That’s within our jurisdiction,” Luke said. “The county is the one who started moving money into treatment and things.” Law enforcement is arresting people who have felonies and those who sell illegal drugs, “we are not trying to arrest homeless, we are not trying to arrest addicts, we’re trying to arrest those who are preying on the homeless and the addicts,” Luke said. Cleaning up the block contributes to Phase 2’s goal of getting people help, however Phase 1 won’t officially end until June 19, 2019 according to the Operation Rio Grande website.

Odyssey House is one of the treatment facilities receiving funds from the county. It has multiple locations with inpatient and outpatient options. Odyssey House also offers “sober living” – transitional housing to help clients get back on their feet. Director of Operations at 7th Street Treatment Center and former support staff at Odyssey House, Melissa Welsh, has experienced Phase 2 first hand when people from Rio Grande first started coming in to Odyssey House. “We didn’t have enough employees to even keep up with everybody” Welsh said.

Odyssey House office building

Odyssey House office building on Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Salt Lake City.

Mary Jo McMillen, Executive Director of Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness, has expressed similar concerns. “The homeless shelters are still experiencing drug use and intoxication.  The complaints I have heard are that there is not enough support staff for help with the complexities that people are dealing with.” McMillen said Operation Rio Grande was not prepared for the second phase.

Addiction has many dynamics and dimensions, Welsh said people who aren’t in treatment by their own choice are known as “compliance-based.” “They’re just trying not to go to jail,” she said. These clients are different than those in treatment by choice. “They go in there and they just bring the street into treatment, they bring the hustle into treatment, not necessarily the drug hustle but their hustle,” she said. Emily Abeyta, a Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Degree student who is currently working on her practicum hours at Youth Care  – an adolescent inpatient treatment center – agreed with Welsh’s description. “I think that taking people off the street and dumping them in rehab is only going to be effective if that’s what they want for themselves,” Abeyta said. “The point is that you take them to treatment when they’re ready for treatment.” She knows this from being in recovery herself – with just over two years sober – and from her work and education. Since joining Youth Care she has experienced these situations repeatedly, parent’s put their kids in rehab but the child does not want to be there.

Yet, there are anomalies. A low percentage of compliance-based clients do succeed. “Some people, they don’t even know that there was help, and it’s like wow, there’s help, and then they rock it,” Welsh said. Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Lindsey MacFarlane, has also experienced this, she now works at a private practice but spent years at Wasatch outpatient. “I wish I knew what it was. If we figured it out, it would be like okay we solved addiction,” McFarlane said. McFarlane doesn’t know if what is happening downtown is the answer though she remains hopeful, “I think that there’s maybe people who will have the change that needs to occur and that they’ll get the opportunity to get help,” she said.

It is too early to tell if Operation Rio Grande’s Phase 2 will be a success or if addicts from The Block will receive and accept the help they so desperately need. Regardless, implementation of this phase was not as well thought out as addiction advocates would have liked. “There is not one size, or model, or approach, or intervention that fits for all individuals,” McMillen said. The importance of individualizing addition treatment may be something that Operation Rio Grande is only now discovering.

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Stigma Against College Students With Mental Illness

Story by Shaelyn Barber

Diagnosed mental illness is on the rise, particularly for college students, according to the American Psychiatric Association. BestColleges.com says that 25 percent of college students have a diagnosable mental illness. This means that one in four students have a mental illness that has been previously diagnosed or would be possible to diagnose if they chose to seek professional help.

PsychCentral says that some of the more common mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar, addiction, ADHD, and eating disorders. Each disease varies in severity and different people can be affected in very different ways. Cases where multiple disorders are present add to the complexity of the illnesses.

Mental illness is often overlooked because it is less visible than a physical disorder. It is impossible to tell if someone has a mental illness just by looking at them. Furthermore, there is a negative stigma surrounding mental illness. Because of these factors, many people do not seek professional help even if they are exhibiting symptoms.

As the conversation surrounding mental illness grows, students are becoming more aware of the many different aspects of mental illness. A lot of students feel that mental illness is an epidemic that isn’t taken very seriously.

“I have many friends and some family who suffer from a variety of mental issues,” Briana McLaren, a student at the University of Utah, said. “I know that mental illness is a serious issue that is not taken as seriously as it should within society.”

McLaren is diagnosed with Asperger’s, clinical depression, anxiety, and excoriation disorder (which is a disorder where one compulsively picks their skin). “When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s it seemed to answer a lot of questions I didn’t even know I had,” McLaren commented. After her diagnosis she was able to make connections between Asperger’s and her symptoms, such as difficulty with eye contact and social skills.

Mental illnesses and its symptoms can make everyday tasks very difficult at times. Madison Adams-Young is a student at the U who has OCD, body dysmorphia, and depression.  She described the paradox of living with both OCD and depression. “OCD is like an alarm blaring in my mind of all of the things I need to be doing, both real things such as homework and cleaning and ritualized things like hand washing and checking the locks,” she said. “The depression is the opposite in that it makes it so difficult to get everything done.” Lately it has been hard for her to complete schoolwork. “I usually do very well in school, but as of late it has been hard,” Adams-Young commented. “I don’t feel comfortable telling people, especially professors, as it makes me feel like I’m making excuses. I lie about being sick or having an appointment in order to cover up for a missed class or a late assignment.” Many students have similar experiences, especially when professors downplay mental illness and the impact it can have on a person’s life.

Jake Hanson is a student at the U who is diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with a mild form of psychosis. He started experiencing symptoms when he was sixteen. “I had unexplainable amounts of energy, never sleeping, and doing really risky stuff like running away for 5 days, stealing neighbor’s dogs, jumping out of my bedroom window thinking I could fly,” Hanson said. “Then after a few weeks of all this energy would come my down swing, staying in bed all day long for a whole week maybe two. I’d be so depressed for no reason, not wanting to talk or listen to my parents or good friends, no motivation to do anything.” Hanson recounted that people sometimes treat him differently after learning that he has Bipolar 1. “I don’t really care what people think about it, but I feel it’s safer not to share that part of me.  People act like themselves around me if they don’t know I’m bipolar, which is what I want, so I tend not to tell people.”

Atticus Edwards goes to the U and spoke to me about his experiences with Purely Obsessive OCD and anxiety. He commented that the stigma surrounding OCD is very different from that of mental illnesses with more visibly symptoms, like anxiety attacks. “OCD is kind of joked about a lot,” Edwards said.

Most of the students that I spoke to felt that there was a negative stigma surrounding mental illness and those who have mental illnesses. “I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is a stigma against those who have mental illnesses,” Adams-Young said.

Mental illness can be treated with disdain, disbelief, or even fear. Many do not understand it, and this misunderstanding makes it difficult for people who do not live with mental illness to imagine what it is like to have one. While the family and friends of Adams-Young do not treat her differently, she said “those who don’t experience the same things don’t really understand.”

Some do not believe that mental illnesses are ‘real’ and only exist in a person’s head. “I hear of people talking about mental illness as an “excuse” to slack off or to sleep or stay home,” Adams-Young said.

Hanson said, “people will associate any mental illness with ‘being crazy,’ which is a negative stigma in itself.”

Kris Glad has Bipolar 2, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety. Glad does believe that there is a negative stigma around mental illness, but has a unique way of combating it. “I make a lot of self deprecating jokes about being crazy and unable to function that people are never quite sure if they’re supposed to laugh or not. This might be a little counter-intuitive, but it kind of gives me some measure of control over how people view me, or at least in the sense that I have control over how they find out and when they form opinions of it,” Glad said.

Susan Chamberlain is a licensed psychologist and outreach coordinator for the University of Utah’s Counseling Center. She is hopeful that the thoughts and stigma surrounding mental illness are changing. She commented that in the baby boomer generation, going to a therapist was seen only as something for crazy people. “The stigma is kind of on the flip side as far as what I see, which is my problems aren’t bad enough for me to see a therapist, and so people will wait and wait and wait until they reach a crisis point,” Chamberlain says. She encourages people to speak out about their mental illnesses, as well as to seek help if they are experiencing symptoms or difficulties.

The Counseling Center at the U offers group, individual, and couples therapy sessions. Students can have up to twelve sessions in a calendar year, and each session is only 12 dollars. For more information, visit http://counselingcenter.utah.edu/

“Shakeout” Attempts to Prepare Utahns for the Worst

by Mark LeBaron

SALT LAKE CITY- “The Great Utah ShakeOut” was not an ice cream eating festival. It wasn’t the latest dance craze either. It was a statewide earthquake drill that was held on April 17.

Many people participated throughout the state at exactly 10:15 am at schools, work and home by dropping under the nearest table or desk and holding on for one minute. Others evacuated their building following the drill.

Bradley Hunsaker, an atmospheric science major at the University of Utah participated, but didn’t think it was worth the effort to have the drill.

“I didn’t really see much point to the drill. It seemed like it was just to set a record for people participating.” Said Hunsaker.

Some students were aware of the test, but didn’t participate.

“Our class was scheduled to take a test. We had been told to ignore any firefighters and just take the test. The rest of the department left, so we were alone in our little room,” said Joe Bolke, a material science and engineering major at the University of Utah. “Nobody got under the desk, or went to rendezvous.”

Joe had been receiving the emails leading up to the drill, however, and felt prepared in case a real earthquake occurred.

Jared Evans, who works in downtown Salt Lake, didn’t participate in the drill either, but only because his work didn’t push to do it.

“I didn’t even know about it until right before it took place. I saw it on KSL and that is when I found out it was happening.” Said Jared. “The building we work in is really old, so it would actually be beneficial to have a fire and earthquake drill to make sure we make it out ok.”

Most of Utah’s residents live along the Wasatch Fault, which runs from the bottom to the top of Utah. According to the Utah Geological Survey, an earthquake generated from the fault is 50 to 100 years overdue. They estimate that the fault shifts every 350-400 years, and the last earthquake was 500 years ago.

According to the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, if a magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred, approximately 7,600 people would die and $18 billion would be lost to physical damage and loss of jobs and economic activity.

Preparation for an earthquake is key to surviving potentially devastating damage. Water, food and gas may be unavailable, as well as cell phones, Internet and electricity.

Be Ready Utah, the State’s emergency preparedness campaign, urges all households to have non-perishable food storage of at least three days per person, in case of emergency. Other things to prepare are implementing an evacuation plan and having an emergency kit. Information for these and other useful tips can be found at http://beready.utah.gov/beready/index.html.

The ShakeOut has been held at other places around the United States and the World, like California, British Columbia, Canada and Tokyo, Japan. The next shakeout is set to occur on September 26th of this year, in New Zealand. To find out more information on the shakeouts, visit http://www.shakeout.org.

Scientists Warn Northern Europe Could Become Uninhabitable In The Next Hundred Years

By: Bradley Hunsaker

This last winter brought record low temperatures and early freezes in much of northern Europe killing close to 80 people.  Even more people had to be evacuated, mostly airlifted, from their homes due to record snowfalls and temperatures falling below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, making the area unlivable.

Scientists have documented temperatures as the lowest in over 100 years and most are saying this is not the last of the brutal winters for that region.

“No, this is only the start,” said Jay Mace, a climate change professor at the University of Utah. “Unfortunately this pattern is what scientists have been predicting would happen for some time now and it is only going to get worse.”

The temperature shifts are occurring because of a change in the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation or AMOC, responsible for bringing warm air to parts of northern Europe that on the other side of the hemisphere are seen as uninhabitable.  The AMOC is a global current that is driven by the heat and water vapor exchanged to cold dry air masses from North America.  Cold, salty water tends to be denser than regular water, causing it to sink in the ocean.  The coldest and saltiest waters are formed in the North Atlantic where the current gets most of its drive.

The problem we are seeing, explains Jay, is that the glacier ice melting in the ocean from Greenland and the arctic is bringing in too much fresh water to the current, causing the flow that thrives on salt water to slowly shut down.  When the current shuts down, warm air can no longer be circulated to places like northern Europe.

If the current does shut down, most of northern Europe from Bulgaria to Denmark and especially places in the north like Russia and Sweden will become frozen over and too cold for any civilization to thrive.

Last time the world saw an event like this was when Lake Agassiz which used to be located in North America drained into the Atlantic dumping fresh water into the ocean.  This event shut down the current for two millennia causing a return to ice in the northern hemisphere causing most of what we see today in places like the Yukon in northern Canada.

Even though scientists have been studying events like this very little is known about the current and how to help it.  Most people are unaware of what is actually causing these global freezes and not much is being done to help it.

“I don’t know what is causing these hot and cold temperatures around the world,” said Liz Griggs, master’s student studying piano performance at the U. “I can say it is all about global warming but then I would just be saying what I have heard from the news.  I can’t really say one way or another what is causing this and how to help.”

Even those studying climate change and weather have very little knowledge exactly how the current works.

“It is concerning to have a natural event that we have no control over and we have very little understanding on what impact we really have on it and what we can do about it,” said Scott Elkins, who is pursuing an atmospheric science minor at the U.   “It is sad that we have to be aware of this event yet have little understanding what to do about it.”

Despite the lack of understanding of the current from the general public, Climatologists have been working hard to understand it and try and see what can be done to reverse the change before it becomes too late.

“Oh, there is no doubt about it,” said Jay, “If trends continue how they are and glacier waters keeps flowing into the AMOC, the current will shut down in a few hundred years and we will see an end to life in a lot of places until it can get started again.  And by the time that happens the world will have already undergone another major climate shift.”

$250,000 Awarded to the Moran Eye Center

by Erica Hartmann

SALT LAKE CITY- Research to Prevent Blindness has awarded two grants to the Moran Eye Center to support research to the causes, treatment and prevention of blinding diseases.

The two grants were given to Dr. Gregory Hageman and the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. Hageman was granted a $150,000 Senior Scientific Investigator Award and the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences received $100,000. Department Chairman Dr. Randall J Olson will direct the usage of this grant.

Hageman is the Director of the Moran Center for translational medicine and has written more than 100 referred publications. His primary research interest is the assessment of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of irreversible worldwide blindness.

Olson, the CEO of the Moran Center, is a specialist in the research of intra-ocular lens complications, as well as corneal transplants. He has also been selected as one of the 15 best cataract surgeons in the United States.

The RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. They’ve awarded grants totaling $4,765,300 to the University of Utah.

Olson stated, “We are grateful to the RPB for their charitable gifts and continual support of our research. These gifts will further the studies that will lead to treatments and cures for devastating eye diseases.”

Their goal is for no person with a visual impairment to be without hope, knowledge and treatment. For more information on RPB and the grants visit www.rpbusa.org.

Trayvon Martin Police and Incident Reports Released

The incident records surrounding the fatal shooting of Travyon Martin last month by a community watch volunteer have been released. Since there is still an ongoing police investigation, the Sanford Police Department has limited information, but Chief Bill Lee Jr. has stated, “The death of anyone due to violence, especially a 17-year-old young man, is morally appalling.”

The details of the original incident are still under debate, but the transcripts for the initial 911 call that George Zimmerman, the community watch volunteer involved in the shooting, placed to the Sanford Police Department and the police report have both been released.

According to Zimmerman in the 911 transcripts, Martin, a 17-year-old African-American male, was “just walking around, looking about.”

Zimmerman then described Martin to the dispatcher and followed Martin until the dispatcher told him “we don’t need you to do that.”

Zimmerman also stated things like, “These assholes they always get away,” and “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something.” Zimmerman held a concealed weapon permit issued by the State of Florida.

The official police report describes that two officers, Ricardo Ayala and Timothy Smith were dispatched around 7 p.m. to the Sanford neighborhood in reference to a complaint about a suspicious person and received calls about gunshots being fired.

Zimmerman’s official statement, according to Chief Lee, was that “he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon.” When police arrived, they investigated to find Martin without a pulse in the grass. The officers then removed Zimmerman’s handgun and placed him in police custody.

Utah police team with FBI to battle against gang membership

Story and slideshow by MARISSA HUNTSMAN

Salt Lake Valley is home to more than a top university; gang membership is at a peak within the valley with more than 50 active gangs, according to Salt Lake City Police.

According to the Salt Lake City Police website, 13 city police departments have teamed up with the FBI to form two task forces that are charged with formulating a plan to combat this growing problem.

Many residents of the Salt Lake City Valley remain unaware of the far-reaching effects of the gangs within the mountain ranges. However, many of these gangs are not from here.

Instead Salt Lake City is dubbed a “Secondary Gang City”  by the Metro Gang Unit, due to the national nature of the gang as stated by the Safe Street Violent Crime Initiative issued by the FBI. The major gangs with influential ties with California include the Sureños and Norteños.

One approach that police are doing is the creation of unified task forces that combine the representatives from local and state agencies along with the FBI. This is a new organization to hit the state of Utah but is not for the rest of the nation. Due to incredible results in other areas of the nation, the unique gang plague that afflicts this state could benefit from a long-term, proactive task force.

Just as with any aspect of the Salt Lake Valley, there is a great diversity of the membership of the gangs. According to the Metro Gang Unit website, not all of the gangs are organized by race or ethnicity. So the task forces also watch for groups such as the motorcycle gangs the Barons and Sundowners.

The Safe Streets Gang Task Force “involves the combined efforts of local and federal resources,” said Task Force Commander Richard Brede in an interview.

With recent efforts resulting in arrests and seizure of heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine, the Safe Street Gang Task Force is making headway in the fight against the drug trade within the state.

An important aspect of the task force is the ability of Brede’s 17 officers to go anywhere in the Valley to investigate gang crime. This mirrors the ability of the gang members in Utah who travel from one area to another.

This is a recent change that is allowing residents to witness that the police are working against the gang crime in their neighborhoods.

The effectiveness of this task force is evident in the application of avoiding duplication during an investigation. Time is not wasted explaining the circumstances to police officer after police officer. The process has been streamlined, providing for a seamless application to solve drug crimes, according to the FBI website.

Another advantage of FBI involvement is the experience that the FBI brings to the situation due to its nature of investigating organized crime. According to Brede, street gangs have steadily been increasing their ability to remain under the radar.

Another common trend being observed regarding membership in Salt Lake Valley gang organizations is the recruitment of members young enough to be attending high school. With gang members walking the hallways of schools, the availability of drugs to teens has never been greater.

“The most common drugs I catch students with are marijuana and cocaine,” said Officer Lyman Smith, the resource officer at  West High School in Salt Lake City. Students are often caught in their cars, school restrooms, or behind churches.

Smith states that catching students using or dealing involves a constant officer presence around the school. Constant hall monitoring during classes by the school’s security team assists with keeping the drugs out of the school.

On the other hand, Resource Officer Thurston, who works at Lone Peak High School in Alpine, states that the majority of tips regarding drug deals and students using comes from fellow students.

Students involved in illegal activity brag to their peers about their newest purchase. Word travels through the grapevine and it eventually surfaces on Thurston’s radar.

These types of anonymous tips have assisted Thurston and the American Fork Police with recent arrests of students meeting in the wooded area behind Lone Peak High School.

The difference between these two schools is evident due to the culture of each school. West High School is known as a school that has many members of multiple gangs walking its hallways. The students at this school are aware of this and do not bring unwanted attention to themselves.

On the other side, the culture of the Alpine school is one in which gangs is not a familiarity and thus the culture allows for students to report crimes they see or hear about in class.

Once these students have been caught by the officers, they are cited and both schools suspend students for a period of time based on the number of occurrences per student.

Much of the information regarding teen gang and/or drug involvement stems from the information learned through the resource officer at local high schools. “These officers are the front men on the battlefield,” Brede said. “They provide necessary information that cannot be gained through other means.”

After the citation has been issued, the Metro Gang Unit steps in to provide support for the teen. The unit’s current movement against gangs is the Salt Lake City Gang Project, which police forces are using to decrease the presence of gangs especially within the school system. However, the task force runs into difficulties when convincing a teen to return to high school rather than make hundreds in one night selling drugs, said detective Nate Clark in an interview with the Deseret News.

This unit features a three-pronged approach when dealing with gangs: prevention, education and suppression, said Detective Thomas Loevlie of the MGU. The last five years have featured the unit focusing on prevention and education. The main direction of education is focused toward young children beginning in fourth grade through programs such as D.A.R.E.

Education is also directed toward the parents of these children. “The media and general public blame bad parenting for the rise in gang activity,” Loevlie said. The unit educates parents to get involved with their children. An involved parent is another layer of protection for the child.

The approach is very different from that of past police forces. It features building a rapport with the teen. Spending more time interviewing the teen offenders and understanding why they have turned to gangs and/or drug involvement.

“Teens have perfected the methods they use to hide gang involvement from adults but this combination of agencies brings new methods to stop and identify gang members,” Loevlie said. “Allowing us to step in and educate the teen.”

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Northern Utah Left to Clean up the Remins from Last Week’s Storm

Story by Kaitlyn Christensen

With winds reaching 102 mph Wednesday night, thousands were left without power and property damage in Northern Utah.
The results of the storm have been devastating for residents. Power lines and trees were blown over leaving damage to properties and residences without power for almost 48 hours.
“Thursday morning was a huge surprise for my family and me. Our fence blew away like a parachute and the part of our fence that happened to not be blown away was toppled on by our neighbor’s tree. It was a very frustrating experience, we were without power for most of Thursday and now that we have to repair the fence,” said Ashley Eppich about her experience with Wednesday’s storm.
In a statement, Orrin Hatch said, “I want to extend my compassion to Utahans’ who have been impacted by today’s significant wind storm.  It is always disheartening to witness the havoc Mother Nature can wreak on buildings, homes, cars and other personal belongings and my heart goes out to those who now face major repairs and structural damage.”
Residents of Northern Utah came together over the weekend to clean up the results of Wednesday’s storm.
On Sunday many volunteers donated their time and equipment to help all residents remove debris and repair damage to help get their town back to normal.
“It was a miraculous sight to see the community coming together to help one another in this time of need. What would have taken two months ended up taking eight hours on Sunday,” said Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt.
Many LDS Churches canceled their services on Sunday to have members volunteer their time to help with the clean up.
Not only did citizens offer their manpower and time, but also the Utah National Guard and many privately owned businesses offered equipment, machinery and manpower to help get the community back on track.
“Luckily, my next door neighbor owns his own landscaping company, he and his crew used their trucks and equipment to help me clean up my yard and anyone else who was in need of help. People I didn’t know were helping me make repairs to my fence and patio. It is great to see people come together in a time like this,” said Ryan Ludlow.
All of the debris cleaned up left residents numerous piles of waste to remove.
“It was an enormous amount of waste,” said Hiatt.
Many cities had set aside temporary landfill for its residents to remove any green waste or other materials.
In Kaysville, between 100-150 volunteer trucks were lined up to drop off the waste that they had collected.
These temporary landfills were temporary closed on Monday to begin the “recovery operations” of moving all of the collected debris from the temporary landfill to the real landfill.
Those who were not removing debris and repairing damage were passing out drinks and food.
“Our community came through, as Utahans, we know how to put others before ourselves,” said Hiatt.

Being a Firefighter is Not an Easy Job

By: Laurie Carlson

“If you are a person who says you are going to do something you do it. Being a firefighter definitely takes some devotion to the job. One of the biggest parts of the job is having integrity,” said Chris Wood B-shift fire captain of South Salt Lake station 43.

A firefighter is someone who is dedicated and perseveres when things are at their toughest point.

“To be a good firefighter you need to be able to work as a team, know your job well and know your teammates jobs’ well. You need to be eager to learn and continue to move forward with education throughout your career. “

“We put others before ourselves but keep our own safety first. It falls on the captain to send us home safe,” said Israel Estares, a firefighter who works on Wood’s crew.
The day-to-day job of a firefighter is never the same.

“We train, we shop, we cook, workout, as well as give tours and do inspections.  We eat and – hopefully – sleep.  We get called to everything.  We could be called to a cat in a tree, to sick people, to fires.  That’s the fun of the job when the siren goes off it could be anything,” said Jared Christensen, a firefighter who works on Wood’s crew.

They could be back in five minutes or they might not ever come back.

“You could go pick up a drunk man off the street and 10 minutes later you could be holding a dead baby.  You could be so far into a fire you can’t even see your hands.  In a 24 hour period I have run from 1 to 47 calls.  You just never know,” said Jared Christensen.

Wood has been a firefighter for 15 years and has been fire captain for 8 years.

“The first time I talked to him I knew that he was very knowledgeable about his career and what he does as a captain,” said Jennifer Christensen Granite Technical Institute (GTI) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) teacher who works with Wood.

Wood not only works at the fire station as captain but he also helps students at the GTI gain more insight from a firefighter point of view.

Jennifer Christensen said, “Chris has helped with my EMT classes in setting up their ride alongs and working with them so they know what is expected. Chris stands out as a captain because he works well with everyone and cares about the people he works with.”


Estares went on to say, “Our captain is just like anyone, he has strengths and weaknesses just like you and I. The strengths I see in Captain Wood are his ability to communicate with anyone in any situation professionally. “

Wood also has good common sense. He leads by example and would never ask anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself.

Jared Christensen said, “Chris is one who always has our back and our best interest in mind.”

“Chris is one who I know takes care of the people that he works with. I know that if anything were to happen to any of them that they would be okay and Chris would do everything in his power to make sure that they were safe,” said Jennifer Christensen.

One of the jobs of a fire captain is to make sure they have training with their crew. Wood schedules trainings for his crew on every shift they have.

“We train so that we make safe, smart, stressful decisions while performing a high risk job,” said Estares.

Some of the things they do every day to make sure they and everyone around them are safe are always checking the trucks and the gear.

One situation that happened to the crew where they could have died was when they were in a house doing a search for people.

“It got to the point where it was super smoky so much so you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face,” said Jared Christensen.

They were searching and Jared Christensen was the second guy on the hose line. The guy in front was holding the nozzle and the third guy was pushing hose to them.

“We were going down the hallway and right as I leaned forward to sound the floor with an ax, me and the guy in front fell through the floor where the whole basement was on fire,“ said Jared Christensen

They then started screaming to the third guy on the hose line who luckily was a big dude so he was able to pull them up back through the hole in the floor.  By that point the two of them were completely disoriented and followed the hose line out.

“We didn’t even know we were outside yet when we were actually on the driveway,” said Jared Christensen

“Wood has a very close relationship with his crew members and has a very strong devotion to his career choice.  He has backed them up and supported them on thousands of calls,” said Jennifer Christensen.

Specialized Chair Helps Veterans Go Paragliding

Story by Sean Gustafson

On Sept. 3, 2011 five veterans tested a new type of paraglider over Sun Valley, Idaho. What made this an event noteworthy was that all five of these veterans are suffering from spinal cord injuries (SCI).

The veterans were able to participate in the paragliding by means of a set of specialized chairs called “Phoenix 1.0” and “Phoenix 1.5.”  The “Phoenix” chairs were made from one inch aircraft aluminum tubing allowing for a sturdy 35lb craft.

These chairs were the product of four months of researching and testing from four University of Utah students under the direction of professor Don Bloswick.

Mark Gaskill, of ABLE Pilot, provided the training for the chairs an organization committed to help people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, and neuromuscular diseases into flying-type actives.

To see test runs on the “Phoenix” chairs, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9j33A0UV8A