SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Mayor David Condon has touted the benefits of police officers closer to the people they serve, which is why a new police precinct is going to be built near Diamond and Market in Hillyard.
Authorities believe geographically assigning police officers to fight crime is paying off in downtown Spokane, where officers working out of the precinct there have been able to reduce violent crime by 29-percent during the past year.
Northeast Spokane has always been a working class neighborhood where residents do their best to protect themselves from being victimized by crime. Now they'll be getting more help when soon a group of officers and detectives will stand up the new Hillyard Precinct.
"Like the successful downtown precinct, this location will house a police captain, detectives and officers specifically working to drive down crime and address quality of life issues in north Spokane," Condon said.
Having the same cops working the same beat makes them quickly familiar with the problem people and houses that can drag down a neighborhood. Also, having a captain running the precinct delivers the clout and police resources the community will need to combat crime.
"For example we have Officer Wayne Downing up here. He's the neighborhood conditions officer and he's on top of problems he talks to the neighbors, he talks to the people who live in the area and therefore is told where the problem houses are," Captain Keith Cummings said.
Cummings has been working in the neighborhood for the past year and along with his hand-picked team of officers has driven down Hillyard crime 12-percent. Local merchants like Tom Weaver say face to face communication with a member of the police department's command staff has gotten some speedy results.
"We saw a big change in the area, he got the officers out of their offices and into their cars doing their paperwork and stuff, just making their presence known and it's made a big difference," Weaver said.
Not all of a neighborhood's quality of life issues can be solved with handcuffs so the mayor plans to staff up the precinct with code enforcement officers as well.
Police hope to have the Hillyard Precinct open for business by the end of the year.