New effort to clean up crime in downtown Spokane

Spokane police said they’re seeing a new hotspot for crime in the city. There’s been a 33% jump in drug-related arrests in downtown this past year.

The hotspot areas downtown are from 2nd Ave. to Sprague Ave. between McClellan and Division.

“It’s a sad situation. That’s what it is,” said Thomas Hammer, Owner of Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters.

Thomas Hammer started his coffee business in downtown Spokane 16 years ago. Since that first day, he’s gradually seen an increase in crime in the downtown area.

“It probably depends on the street that people are on or how active it is,” said Hammer.

However, learning that his business was in part of the downtown hotspot for crime caught him by surprise.

“Being here as long as we have, it is what it is,” said Hammer.

Yet that’s not to say that he doesn’t see the reasoning behind it.

“I would definitely say that there has been some increase in probably overt drug use,” Hammer said.

Police report that crime in the downtown area has gone up, along with the amount of homeless living in that area.

“Just because someone is out here and doesn’t have a home does not make them a criminal. However, we’re also having problems with trash starting to build up. That basically makes it difficult for more people to come down and use the businesses that are down here,” said Sgt. Terry Preuninger with the Spokane Police Department.

It’s not just a concern of keeping downtown clean, but also making sure that people feel safe.

“When there is a slow time they’re actually encouraging officers to do paperwork in those hotspots and spend time there,” said Preuninger.

While Hammer has adjusted to the way things are, he said a permanent solution is what downtown Spokane really needs.

“I’m not quite sure what an increased police presence is going to do. I don’t understand,” Hammer said.

Police said a permanent solution is a lot more complex than many people may think but hope that this will be a step in the right direction.

If you see crime happening in your area, police want you to report it to Crime Check immediately.