Community Action Teams
Salt Lake City's Community Action Teams (CATs) are a multidisciplinary approach to solving community issues at the neighborhood level.
The teams are organized along the boundaries of the city's seven council districts. They meet weekly to discuss issues in their communities and to fashion collaborative, creative and comprehensive solutions to problems in the community.
Issues are referred to the teams from the community through the police department, city council office, mayor's office, city agencies, or community councils. These issues range from quality of life concerns, such as parking and code enforcement, to serious public safety issues including drive-by shootings, gang houses, and drug houses.
If you would like to contact the CAT team working with your neighborhood, or if you would like additional information about the CAT teams, please call 535-6333, Fax 535-6331, or TTY 535-6021.
Click here for the CAT member login page.
The mission of each CAT will be to:
- Provide a multi-jurisdictional collaborative team to effectively address crime and quality of life issues in each City Council District.
- Provide a forum to address and coordinate individual, family, neighborhood, and system issues.
- Maximize the use of resources to increase protective factors and increase community wellness.
- Increase both total community and individual involvement through a comprehensive process of community organizing, mobilization, and assistance with ownership and empowerment.
District 1 had a man who was living in a HUD "assisted living" apartment complex in the Westpointe area. The tenant was a drug user and allowed his friends to use and sell drugs from his apartment. Through the combined efforts of CAT 1, the residents of the complex and HUD, the man was evicted for violating his lease and HUD agreements.
Calls from residents in the Poplar Grove community initiated CAT 2's investigation of a fitness club. Neighbors were concerned about the filthy condition of the business and the long-term impact it was having on the health and safety of the surrounding community. The CAT investigated the complaints and found a myriad of health and safety violations including a welded-shut exit door, an illegal apartment, and a dirty swimming pool. The problems with the club involved nearly all the CAT areas of specialization. The CAT additionally worked with the neighborhood, the City Attorney's Office, and Business Licensing to address the issues. The business owners were brought into a pre-license revocation hearing and a management plan was developed by the parties involved. Private security was added to the business to prevent further problems, and all of the violations were brought into compliance. Today the health club is a better neighbor and CAT 2 has again made a positive difference in Council District 2.
During February, 2001, an Avenues Patrol Officer responding to a 911 hang-up call found an elderly woman whose entire home was filled with garbage and animal excrement. The officer notified the Community Action Team Specialist in District Three to see if CAT could do something for this senior citizen. A quick review of Police Department calls for service to her address revealed more than four 911 hang-up calls in less than 30 days. An outreach worker with Aging Services found her name in their database and provided the CAT member with emergency contact information.
Family members were notified as well as the Salt Lake County Health Inspector regarding sanitation and habitability conditions at this residence. The family members were very helpful and agreed to meet with CAT members and the elderly property owner at her residence. The property owner was very cooperative and wanted help; she was depressed, overwhelmed and embarrassed by her current situation. Her home was in bad need of repairs and had to be closed to occupancy due to multiple health code violations. Her Bishop found a room for her within the Ward boundaries. Her cousin applied for a no interest rehabilitation loan with the city's Housing and Neighborhood Development Division, and found volunteers to clean up the house. The owner of a local kennel agreed to provide free animal services for her dog.
Every week she is able to visit with her dog and is currently becoming more independent by accessing public transportation and other services available for senior citizens in Salt Lake County. Adult Protective Services is assisting her with asset protection to prevent financial exploitation. The Health Department inspector and City Code Enforcement Officer will monitor the clean up and rehabilitation of her home. Aging Services will continue to coordinate services impacting her quality of life and independence, such as sanitation, maintenance and nutrition.
Case 1: Recently new tenants moved into an East Central community four-plex and calls for police services sky-rocketed. The neighbors called the District 4/5 Community Action Team for help. The CAT held a meeting with the neighbors and the neighbors started keeping a log on the criminal activity.
Two days later the CAT had enough information to start moving forward. The information was given to the Police Department's Vice & Narcotics Units. Within two weeks, raids were done on the four-plex and the City sent the property owner a nuisance letter outlining the criminal activity originating from the property. When there was no response from the owner, CAT members visited the owner at his home. The CAT discovered that the owner had suffered two strokes within the last 18 months and was not healthy enough to take proper care of or supervise the property. The suggestion was made to either sell the property or hire a management company. One week later, the owner called the CAT and informed them that he had sold the 4-plex. He used the money to purchase a condominium in Maui. His income from the new property in Maui was very close to what he earned from the 4-plex, plus the management company was doing all the work and sending him a regular check. The 4-plex property was sold to someone who lives in the community. The tenants engaging in criminal activity were evicted, the property was remodeled, the neighborhood was improved, and police calls for service dropped to zero.
This is a great example of a Community Action Team working with the community to get to the root of a problem and find a solution.
Case 2: For several years the residents of Laird Avenue voiced complaints about a house they felt was not being maintained properly. There were some obvious violations that were referred to the Health Inspector and the Housing and Zoning Inspector for the area. Both inspectors attempted to solve the problems and actually achieved some success.
Unfortunately, there were more serious problems to be addressed. The owner had attempted to perform some remodeling but, did not have the necessary resources to continue. This prompted even more complaints. The problem was compounded by a question of ownership, which prevented the "owner" from obtaining both financial assistance and agency assistance. It was at this point the problem came to the Community Action Team. The Officer and Crime Prevention Specialist met with the neighborhood regarding Neighborhood Watch and took comments about the on-going problems. The Health Department and Housing/Zoning Enforcement were already involved. A brainstorming session was held involving numerous other agency members of the CAT and a decision was reached to make this a project involving volunteers and donated labor. Home Depot donated the supplies for a new roof and training for the volunteers. On a cold December day representatives of the Police Department and the Mayor's Office assembled to begin the project.
It turned out to be a two-day project, involving 20 hours of labor and 10 people. The project was completed on New Years Eve, just in time for the snow that covered the new roof that night. While all involved were "dead tired" and New Year's Eve was spent recuperating, the satisfaction of a job well done was felt by all involved. CAT 4-5 members who participated made a friend and won the admiration of the neighborhood.
Over the past six years, the CAT for districts 6 and 7 has experienced many successes, addressing nuisance properties, drug houses, and general violations of various city ordinances.
One case involved a suspected methamphetamine lab in a small house in the Sugar House area. The neighbor kept reporting suspicious activity and one day he reported a specific incident to the Mayor's Office. A call went to the Health Department's Manager of the Clandestine Lab Response Program indicating that this location appeared to be an active meth lab. The Health Inspector and several members of the Police Department Community Oriented Policing (COP) Squad responded to the address.
As a result, a fully operational meth lab was shut down and the Drug Enforcement Administration seized all equipment and chemicals. The resident of this house was a well-known "cook" with a history of setting up meth labs around the valley. While he was not present, his operation was shut down, the Health Inspector closed the house to occupancy, and the owner was notified. The owner then took the necessary steps to decontaminate the house and returned it to the market.
This is an example of people and agencies assigned to the CAT, working together to solve a serious neighborhood problem. The neighbor was extremely pleased and appreciative of the process and action taken.