It's taken some extra manpower and a chilly change in the weather but the Spokane Police Department is reporting there were no violent crimes in the downtown area last week.
Monday night, the Spokane City Council passed a half dozen new ordinances designed to give police more tools to battle bad behavior in the city's core, and Tuesday neighborhood conditions officers were back on patrol with a new program to help kids and other homeless people get off the streets.
The idea is a pretty simple one. For a couple of hours a day Spokane police set up an information station where ever they can find street kids or homeless people and try to hook them up with the services they need.
Police know some of our homeless are truly trapped on Spokane streets and still looking for that avenue to a better life. The information station is one of several new initiatives to engage street people instead of just hoping they'll go away.
"One of the things these kids have continually said is they want jobs and so hopefully of they get their basic needs taken care of through the services offered downtown they will be able to step up and get that education, to get that training so they can be employable," Spokane Police Captain Judi Carl said.
One of the reasons you find so many street kids hanging out at the Olive Garden downtown for example is that a lot of them have been trespassed from Riverfront Park for a whole year because of things like smoking. Now police are thinking it may be time to renegotiate those punishments.
"We are trying to look at any type of creative alternative, and if that involves playing basketball for a few hours, to be able to return back to the park and to have your trespassing order lifted if you participate in this program," Carl said.
Police are thinking it may be better to have crowds of loitering people spread out over a hundred acre park than have them bunched up on a new high profile corners.
The organizations the police department is trying to connect with street kids and the homeless have had their budgets cut and so if you are really interested in helping the needy, police are hoping you'll make your generous contributions to those agencies and not just panhandlers on the street.