Investigations

The Investigations Division comprises a host of functions and investigations assets that serve the citizens of Salt Lake County. Many of the division functions serve the entire County, while others are limited to the unincorporated areas and/or contract cities. Read ahead and learn about one of the most exciting and engaged law enforcement entities in the State.

Tenacity and Attention to Detail

The Investigations Division comprises a host of functions and investigations assets that serve the citizens of Salt Lake County. Many of the division functions serve the entire County, while others are limited to the unincorporated areas and/or contract cities. Read ahead and learn about one of the most exciting and engaged law enforcement entities in the State.

Crimes Against Persons

Crimes Against Persons entails all aspects of violent felonies including child abuse and molestation, murder, aggravated assault, rape, stalking, and domestic violence.

Violent Crimes Unit (VCU)

The Violent Crimes Unit is comprised of seven detectives and a sergeant. One of these detectives is assigned exclusively to work cold case homicides. They are tasked with investigating violent crimes against persons which include homicides, kidnappings, robberies, and sexual assaults. Additionally, these detectives investigate all suicides, in-custody deaths, unexpected deaths, and officer involved shootings. Instituting cold case homicide investigation in 2005 has proven extremely successful. Five cold cases have been solved, and four are currently under active investigation. Also, this unit contains the Major Accident Team (MAT). This team has enormous technical capabilities and skills to reconstruct serious accident scenes, as well as crime scenes. Its members work many long hours with numerous callouts, and lengthy investigations requiring hours of follow up.

Special Victims Unit (SVU)

The Special Victims Unit investigates child abuse, sex abuse, and domestic violence cases. The unit investigates more than 1,000 cases of abuse that occurred in families, with complaints filed in 384 of those. Victim Advocates are remarkable public servants and make more than 3,000 contacts per year, helping many victims work through the legal system and restart their lives after often tragic exposure to violence and abuse. They are a great resource for the Unified Police Department and the community we serve.

We have increased our investigative efforts in the computer and Internet related crimes against children to meet the exploding increase in the numbers of these crimes. To facilitate this, the squad formed a strong working relationship with the Utah State Computer Forensic Lab and assigned a crime scene technician to that effort in 2005. This team approach has resulted in multiple arrests, charging numerous offenders with felonies. There remain a substantial number of cases under investigation, each of which has a strong probability of arrest.

Missing/Runaway Persons continually show an impressive performance. They investigated 1300 cases per year with better than a 95 percent clearance rate. This unit includes one full-time investigator and is backed by both the SVU and VCU. In addition, this unit handles numerous custodial interference cases.

Forensics Unit

The Forensic Investigations Unit of the Unified Police Department is one of the top three forensic organizations in Utah. The unit is comprised of 11civilians, specialized in very technical CSI actions. Our team performs in three broad categories of service.

First, we provide “crime scene services” on a 24/7/365 clock for the entire Salt Lake County area including our contract cities and townships. Statistics show that to cover such a large geographical area with two people on every shift that it should require a minimum of thirteen individuals. However, we have been successful in providing the coverage with eight. This team of highly trained forensic investigators performs photography, physical evidence detection and collection, latent print development and collection and searching national fingerprint databases for the identity of suspects using latent prints left at the crime scene. These actions cover every crime category and require countless hours of processing for even the smallest of crimes.

Secondly, we supply “finger printing services” for the entire State of Utah by providing fingerprint records for all individuals who are booked in the Salt Lake County Metro-Jail. Being the largest jail in the state, we have been providing the fingerprint records to any law enforcement agency for over forty years. Recently, we’ve taken this service to the electronic age. We can now email these records and search for suspects in our recently acquired high-tech computers. Included in this service is fingerprinting the public for those in need of pre-employment background checks. One of our biggest accomplishments in this service area is the acquisition of a modern digital fingerprint and palm print scanner. Because of this equipment, we are the first in Utah to offer a very valuable service in the form of finger printing and palm printing of registered sexual offenders. The palm printing of sexual offenders makes the UPD compliant with the Adam Walsh Child and Protection Act of 2006. Palm prints are very important in solving crime. Thirty percent of latent prints at a crime scene are from the palm area. If you have no palm database to compare, then you are not solving thirty percent of the crime. Our unit is populating a palm database to do exactly that, solve thirty percent more crime.

Thirdly, we offer “forensic laboratory services” similar in many ways to the Utah State Crime Laboratory. However, we do offer unique forensic tests that no one else provides in the state. We acquired a very expensive system to perfume questioned document analysis, handwriting comparisons, and counterfeit currency analysis. In the world of fraud, forgeries and paper crime, we can offer over 18 different examinations concerning documents and handwriting matters. The forensics unit routinely performs latent print analysis on every type of crime from the identification of people on pawn tickets to identifying a suspect by a bloody impression left at a crime scene. Our unit can also perform analysis of footwear impressions and tire tread impressions to help locate a suspect or prove a person was present at the scene.

The Forensic Investigations Unit of the Unified Police Department has acquired over $250,000 in high-tech equipment over the last year through Federal grants. This equipment and our training places our abilities high amongst those in the State of Utah practicing forensic science.

Forensics Unit

The Forensic Investigations Unit of the Unified Police Department is one of the top three forensic organizations in Utah. The unit is comprised of 11civilians, specialized in very technical CSI actions. Our team performs in three broad categories of service.

First, we provide “crime scene services” on a 24/7/365 clock for the entire Salt Lake County area including our contract cities and townships. Statistics show that to cover such a large geographical area with two people on every shift that it should require a minimum of thirteen individuals. However, we have been successful in providing the coverage with eight. This team of highly trained forensic investigators performs photography, physical evidence detection and collection, latent print development and collection and searching national fingerprint databases for the identity of suspects using latent prints left at the crime scene. These actions cover every crime category and require countless hours of processing for even the smallest of crimes.

Secondly, we supply “finger printing services” for the entire State of Utah by providing fingerprint records for all individuals who are booked in the Salt Lake County Metro-Jail. Being the largest jail in the state, we have been providing the fingerprint records to any law enforcement agency for over forty years. Recently, we’ve taken this service to the electronic age. We can now email these records and search for suspects in our recently acquired high-tech computers. Included in this service is fingerprinting the public for those in need of pre-employment background checks. One of our biggest accomplishments in this service area is the acquisition of a modern digital fingerprint and palm print scanner. Because of this equipment, we are the first in Utah to offer a very valuable service in the form of finger printing and palm printing of registered sexual offenders. The palm printing of sexual offenders makes the UPD compliant with the Adam Walsh Child and Protection Act of 2006. Palm prints are very important in solving crime. Thirty percent of latent prints at a crime scene are from the palm area. If you have no palm database to compare, then you are not solving thirty percent of the crime. Our unit is populating a palm database to do exactly that, solve thirty percent more crime.

Thirdly, we offer “forensic laboratory services” similar in many ways to the Utah State Crime Laboratory. However, we do offer unique forensic tests that no one else provides in the state. We acquired a very expensive system to perfume questioned document analysis, handwriting comparisons, and counterfeit currency analysis. In the world of fraud, forgeries and paper crime, we can offer over 18 different examinations concerning documents and handwriting matters. The forensics unit routinely performs latent print analysis on every type of crime from the identification of people on pawn tickets to identifying a suspect by a bloody impression left at a crime scene. Our unit can also perform analysis of footwear impressions and tire tread impressions to help locate a suspect or prove a person was present at the scene.

The Forensic Investigations Unit of the Unified Police Department has acquired over $250,000 in high-tech equipment over the last year through Federal grants. This equipment and our training places our abilities high amongst those in the State of Utah practicing forensic science.

Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Unit (HSU), formed in 2005, brings together processes and investigators related to the homeland security mission. Homeland security is directed by a lieutenant, who is directly responsible for interfacing with other county, state, and federal organizations, and for planning, training, and policy related to this important mission.

The lieutenant supervises covert investigations, intelligence efforts, a narcotics unit, a warrants unit, and oversight of the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team. He also is responsible for officers assigned to task forces.

Current accomplishments include: Institution of new homeland/intelligence NCIC Codes for homeland security issues, with direct coordination and implementation with Salt Lake City Police Department; re-established Directed Patrol Lists and identification of critical infrastructure; management of homeland security grants; state EMS Grant/ JAG - Bryne Grant; the creation of emergency preparedness brochures; update and management of the County Homeland Website/email; participation in SLCO Homeland Security Workgroup / First Responder Work Group/ Local Emergency Planners Committee / State Region II Planning Committee.

Task Forces

The department participates in several task forces including the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), DEA Narcotics Task Force, and the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team (JCAT). Investigative responsibilities and cases with JTTF are increasing. Future plans include expansion of task force participation.

Warrant and Fugitive Unit

The Warrant and Fugitive Unit is comprised of three detectives from UPD. All three detectives have distinctive assignments within that unit. One detective is responsible for screening all criminal cases brought forward by the entire department. One detective is solely responsible for the fugitive transportation and extradition to and from Utah. The third investigator hunts down wanted fugitives and serves on the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team. The Joint Criminal Apprehension Team (JCAT) performs an extraordinary service in pursuing fugitives across the valley and state. This multi- jurisdictional unit works under the guiding hand of the United States Marshals Service using officespace provided in the Investigations Division. Investigators from West Jordan Police Department, Adult Probation and Parole, Immigration, and the United States Marshal’s Office pool resources with UPD to arrest more than 500 violent fugitives per year. JCAT detectives arrest close to 15,000 fugitives per year. The Salt Lake County model for JCAT has now expanded to other areas of the state to include Davis, Weber and Morgan Counties as well as Washington County.

Intelligence and Technical Services Detective

This detective oversees intelligence efforts for the department, and works part time on JCAT. He also oversees supervision of the many pawn shops, to ensure they are properly submitting their pawn cards electronically into the appropriate database. The detective also provides support to criminal investigations with surveillance technologies, including vehicle trackers, property tracker, wires, and high tech video such as infrared and night vision.

Neighborhood Narcotics Unit

The Neighborhood Narcotics Unit is designed to aggressively combat street level drug dealers and to concentrate on drug dealers and suppliers that directly impact Salt Lake County residential neighborhoods. The unit receives more than 2000 cases per year, makes more than 500 arrests, serves more than 50 search warrants and seizes sizable amounts of drugs, cash, and property. This unit’s aggressive approach to drug enforcement attacks the main nexus of most crime in the valley.

Jail Investigations

The Jail Investigations Unit (JIU) is staffed by an officer who works closely with the Corrections Bureau, and a corrections officer who works part time. The responsibilities of the unit include the investigation of criminal events which occur within the Salt Lake County Jail and the court buildings where the Sheriff’s Office provides security. Additionally, the JIU acts as a liaison between outside law enforcement agencies and the jail and gathers intelligence related to criminal cases through the monitoring of prisoner mail and communications. The JIU reviews more than 700 potential criminal episodes, and files numerous felony information and 20 misdemeanors, with 6 of the felony cases adjudicated through the federal system and the remainder through the local courts. Typically, charges screened include aggravated assault by a prisoner, assault on a correctional officer, narcotics smuggling, escape, and damaging a jail. Historically, the unit has been instrumental in gathering intelligence for the investigating agency of several high profile murder cases, most notably the Lori Hacking case. Agencies requesting the monitoring of telephone calls and mail include all of the departments within the Salt Lake Valley, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and several out of state departments and agencies.

Salt Lake Area Gang Project (Metro Gang Unit)

The Gang Project is a multi-jurisdictional task force staffed by 24 investigators from 18 local, state and federal jurisdictions. Since 1999, the Sheriff’s Office and now UPD has been the lead agency in the Gang Project contributing a Lieutenant, two sergeants, four investigators, an analyst, office coordinator and community coordinator. The Project works out of the Sheriff’s Office Administration Building under the operational command of the Investigations Division. The mission of the project is to deter, suppress and eliminate criminal gang activity and gang involvement in Salt Lake County. To accomplish its mission, the project employs several different methods of operation. These include the collection and analysis of gang intelligence, providing and facilitating education and counseling resources to the public and law enforcement, and the investigation and prosecution of gang related crime. The project also teams up with the University of Utah Medical Center to provide tattoo removal to those who desire to put gang-life behind them and contribute to their communities. In 2002, the Gang Project initiated its Public Enemy #1 program which features a profile of the most wanted gang members and criminals on television. Since its inception the program has featured close to 100 wanted persons with a 95% arrest rate. The program is a strategy to involve the media and the public in the apprehension of dangerous gang members which has been effective and well received. Each year, gang detectives assist at special events where gang members congregate, including concerts, the State Fair, and activities connected with July 4th and 24th celebrations. The Project hosts an annual gang conference that brings professionals from all over the western United States. More than 1100 people attend the conference and are treated to a wide array of training classes and professional development. with various different constituencies within our communities and the criminal justice system (including other police officers). As a team the program selects and monitors the behavior of at-risk youth. This is done through communication between partners, increased supervision and frequent visits to participant’s homes and neighborhoods to ensure compliance with court orders. Many of the identified Serious Habitual Offenders in our county are known or suspected gang members.

Narcotics Diversion Unit

The Unified Police Department Narcotics Diversion Unit is a specialty group of very unique detectives. This unit is the law enforcement arm of the Salt Lake County Felony Drug Courts. The drug courts offer participants drug treatment and addiction recovery as a path away from criminality. The Narcotics Diversion Detectives act as compliance and probation officers for participants of this very important program. Statistically, on a national level every dollar spent on drug courts saves four dollars for the community who is involved with these proven successful programs.

The Unified Police Department recognizes the importance of reducing crime and the causes that perpetuate criminal behavior. Arresting and jailing is not always the answer that promotes a long term solution. Most property crimes and to a larger degree societal ills can be attributed to substance abuse. The Narcotics Diversion Unit was designed to assist at all levels of the criminal justice system. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Enforcing and keeping drug court clients in adherence to the drug court agreement.
  • Ensuring that drug court participants occupy crime free, drug free housing.
  • Frequent visits to drug court participants’ homes to administer random compliance searches that assist the client with remaining drug and crime free.
  • Dispensing random urinalysis to ensure a client is remaining drug free.
  • Placing clients on ankle monitor and frequent supervision to free much needed jail space and to keep participants in addiction recovery classes. This also allows participants to maintain their jobs.
  • Maintain and monitor community service components of drug court.
  • Interact with other members of the drug court community including prosecutors, defense attorneys and drug treatment providers.
  • Provide education to the law enforcement community and the public about the dangers of drug addiction and recognizing signs and symptoms of drug use.
  • Be ambassadors of the drug court program and report the statistics that allow the program to be a proven crime reducer.

The detectives of the Narcotics Diversion Unit are on the front lines of the newest drug abuse trends and are instrumental in identifying the dangers posed by the ever changing illegal street drug market. These detectives communicate directly with the judges and legislators to assist in passing effective controlled substance laws that make our community a safer place to live and work.

Narcotics Diversion Unit Detectives may be contacted regarding questions about drug abuse and the prevention of dangerous street drugs in your neighborhood. If you have a family member, friend or loved one who is struggling with drug abuse help is available. Narcotics Diversion Office Number: 385.468.9800.

Wrap Up

The Investigation Division serves valley cities in a variety of ways. Detectives assigned to the division are the best of the best, and consistently succeed in spite of high case loads, limited resources, and many long hours away from their families and loved ones. Every member of the Investigations Division lives up to the division motto, “Tenacity and Attention to Detail.” Citizens can have confidence that when tragedy and crime strike them, Investigations Division professionals are ready to serve them.

Investigations

Captain Kris Ownby

Contacts

  • 385.468.9827
    Narcotics Hotline (Anonymous)
  • To report a crime or request to speak with a officer, call Dispatch at 801.743.7000. For all emergencies, call 9-1-1.

Cold Cases

Click here to learn about how you can solve a cold case.

Domestic Abuse

Click here to learn about domestic abuse resources

Victim Advocate Program

Click here to learn about victim advocate program