An infusion of police officers into Seattle’s downtown shopping district has decreased 911 calls and chased away many of the thugs and dope dealers who made the area feel unsafe, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Although crime swept out of the area has apparently moved into neighboring districts, the city is calling its experiment a success and intends to keep extra police on the downtown beat at least through next year.
Most people downtown attest to sharp reductions in loitering, panhandling, and street thuggery since the police effort began in summer. The city dedicated $500,000 to assign eight extra officers and a sergeant to the downtown stretch. The effort followed several shootings, including one during rush hour at a busy intersection last summer. The officers work in shifts between 2 and 10 p.m., when the area bustles with workers, shoppers and tourists. In the hours that extra officers have been out, 911 calls dropped 20 percent.