SPOKANE, Wash. - Downtown safety has come under question in recent months, as mayoral candidates look to make an impression on voters by taking a stance on crime.
It's an issue that was important to voters this year, as they approved a $5.8 million public safety levy to pay for more police officers and firefighters. Today, Spokane Police announced they'd be putting that money to work sooner than expected. The five downtown police officers, hired with levy money, will start next September -- six months earlier than originally planned.
"By being able to hire these officers for the downtown precinct in September, that's six months sooner that we will be able to get those individuals out on the street in helping to keep our downtown safe," police chief Craig Meidl said. "It's not just about reducing crime, it's about making sure that people also feel safer when they're in that downtown area as well and that's our focus."
Recent numbers from SPD show downtown crime is down 17 percent from this time last year. Meidl hopes these new officers will keep that number down, but also improve the overall feel of downtown for those visiting.
"Crime downtown has diminished fairly significantly, but we also know that safety is more than just numbers. It's a perception, it's a feeling people have," Meidl said. "It's important for us to not only continue to drive down those numbers, to continue to hold those people who are breaking the law accountable, but we also have a role to play in that perception of safety."
Before those patrols hit downtown this summer, you can also expect to see more officers downtown for Hoopfest this weekend and at bars every Friday and Saturday night this summer.
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