SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Police Department (SPD) is concerned about an uptick in vehicle prowling in the downtown core. But, the downtown precinct is finding success with emphasis patrols in areas where this happens most often.
Spokane police opened its downtown precinct at the new location next to the STA plaza about a year and half ago. At the time, Chief Craig Meidl said moving the precinct to the city’s core would help reduce crime. And so far, the data shows it’s working.
The downtown precinct looks at criminal activity in a certain area and determines how officers can reduce that crime. Then, all the Neighborhood Resource Officers in the downtown precinct will spend some time during their workday in that designated hot spot.
During these emphasis patrols, officers are not just using enforcement to deter crime.
They are also working with property owners in the “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” program—or CPTED. It’s a free program where officers recommend changes to your property that can help prevent crime.
“That can be from anything from landscaping to lighting cameras, where if those recommendations are implemented, we can hopefully reduce crime," Lt. Steve Braun said.
Braun adds that two months ago, Neighborhood Resource Officers increased their presence around Madison to Cedar and Sprague to Second Avenue. Calls for service in the area reduced from 93 in the two weeks before to 57 in the two weeks after emphasis patrols. And vehicle prowling reports went from 18 to 3.
“That tells me that our officers are out doing a fantastic job and in the outreach in doing some of those CPTED recommendations and just being a visible presence so that the community sees our officers out in a couple of square block area as a deterrent for criminal activity,” Braun said.
Once officers move to another identified hotspot downtown, Braun said these numbers may go back up slightly. But, they rarely go back to where they were before. He attributes this to people who implement those recommended changes to deter crime on their property.
“If a property owner takes us up on CPTED, and they're willing to implement even some of the recommendations, we typically see a positive impact," Braun said.
The downtown precinct will continue to identify additional hotspots for criminal activity in the city’s core. They’ll focus their efforts in those areas for varying amounts of time.
The hotspot officers are curerently focused on the area from Division to Spokane Street and Second to Pacific.