Catholic Charities hopes new security team will lower downtown crime

Catholic Charities has created a security team that the non-profit organization hopes will help improve safety in downtown Spokane.

It’s an issue that has come under fire in the last year, with some political candidates and business owners placing blame on the city’s homeless population.

Now, thanks to a special commission and training from the Spokane Police Department, a security team will patrol Catholic Charities’ downtown properties. It will even have the authority to make arrests.

“A safety team is going to increase the sense of safety in and around our buildings and that is really important because it is a perception challenge as much as it is a real challenge,” said Jonathan Mallahan, vice president of housing at Catholic Charities.

With neighbors voicing conern about heightened crime levels in the area, Mallahan says the safety team is an investment the organization hopes will help.

The team has been in the works for about a year. It’s made up of four officers, who have been patrolling the non-profit’s properties every day for the last month.

“They will be trained and have commissions from the Spokane Police Department, which means they’re authorized to exercise some police powers on a limited scope,” said Mallahan.

Like the power to arrest men and women who don’t live on property.

“Trespassing is something that we’re really concerned with and that’s trespassing on our property, keeping our residents safe from people who are preying on them and not supposed to be there,” said Mallahan.

He says he’s hopeful giving the officers the power to make arrests will create a better perception of safety downtown.

The team is working with Spokane police to figure out which laws will be enforced.

Currently, two of the four officers don’t have their commisions to make arrests. They’re hoping to get them in April.