The number of reported crimes in downtown Phoenix has plummeted more than 50 percent since 1999, and it dropped nearly 10 percent from 2007 to 2008, the Arizona Republic reports. The drop is the result of old-fashioned police work, a national decrease in crime, and a downtown building spree that has transformed the neighborhood, say police and other experts. Several major U.S. cities, including New York and Philadelphia, have turned once-seedy downtown neighborhoods into tourist areas.
Since 1990, downtown Phoenix has gained a shopping mall, two sports arenas, a larger convention center, a slew of condo projects, more art galleries and a stae university campus, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. Arizona Diamondbacks fans linger in neighborhood eateries long after the ninth inning and convention attendees feel at ease roaming downtown streets. Stepped-up patrols have also cut crime, said police Lt. Jeff Lazell, who oversees the Downtown Operations Unit. The unit was created in 1999 and its 42 officers keep an eye on a relatively small area. The downtown unit is about one-tenth of the size of most Phoenix precincts, which on average have about 300 officers.