Two weeks ago today, we made the tough decision to eliminate the Downtown Guide program and implement a Public Safety initiative. We also streamlined our business operations by eliminating two office positions. The remaining office staff has stepped up to fill in the gaps with professionalism and enthusiasm. The Clean Team has begun monitoring and reporting issues to the Citizen Service Bureau, a service formerly provided by the Downtown Guides.
The community response to our new security program has been extremely positive. We have heard from workers, residents and business owners, thanking us for this change and sharing their experiences with the officers who are now walking a beat throughout the Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District (CID). Here is a summary of the activity:
- Two-officer teams were assigned to specific geographic areas within the CID that were assessed as having the highest needs. This assessment was conducted by a review of crime data, comments and concerns of stakeholders within the service area. Four areas were identified for the officers to patrol from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday – Friday.
- The focus is to enhance the safety and security of all individuals within the CID, while establishing new relationships with all encountered.
- Each team averaged between 4 and 7 miles walked per 8-hour shift, depending on the level of contacts.
- Teams have been passing out business cards listing points of contact for the CID, as well as the officers, to all businesses within the area. Officers initially focused their outreach efforts to hotels and food & beverage establishments, and plan to move into other businesses this week. The ultimate goal is to establish face-to-face contact with a representative of every business within the CID.
- A briefing was held before every shift to ensure the assigned officers were aware of what was expected of them, to pass on any information deemed pertinent, and to assign patrol teams to each of the four areas. When possible, a representative from the 4th District, Bike Unit and SLMPD-funded Supplemental Patrol attended the briefing, which allowed for a more efficient patrol strategy.
- Detail officers conducted countless “contact and warn” actions over the past week for violations ranging from urinating in public, pedestrian violations, trespassing, aggressive begging and myriad of other prohibited behaviors. These individuals were informed of the escalating enforcement model employed this past year along Washington Avenue. Each violator is identified, warned and informed that future violations will result in arrest or summons.
- Several arrests were made for serious violations.
The escort service previously provided by the Downtown Guides is an important amenity for our neighbors, and it remains available through the contracted secondary officers. The phone number is the same; users will continue to call 314-280-4817 to schedule a secure walk to their destination. There were several escorts conducted over the past two weeks.
Finally, I want to thank you for the outpouring of support over the past couple weeks. We are proud of the work that led up to this change and the early results we are seeing, but it was not without difficulty as we said farewell to many members of our staff. The past few weeks have reinforced what I have felt, to varying degrees, over the four years I have been part of this organization; I am privileged and proud to be part of this team and the Downtown community.
President & CEO
Downtown STL, Inc.