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Downtown Safety Becomes Job No. 1 for Raleigh

Posted March 30, 2007

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— From new lights in parking decks to a safety patrol, the city is working hard to make people safer downtown.

The Raleigh Police Department plans to begin adjusting shifts to put more officers downtown as the weather warms up and more people take advantage of entertainment opportunities.

The move is in addition to the safety patrols recently launched by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and extra lighting the city added to area parking garages.

"The police can't do it alone. It takes a safe environment, and everything that we've done to create a safe environment is going to help the police," police department spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

Major crimes are down slightly in the department's Downtown District through the first three months of this year when compared to a year ago, Sughrue said. The district covers a larger area than the entertainment district, he said.

Safety escort is just one of the responsibilities of Raleigh's Downtown Ambassadors, who also help visitors with directions and keep streets in the central business district clean. The group's bike patrol covers 110 blocks, focusing on downtown hot spots like Fayetteville Street and Glenwood South.

"(We're) helping out, assisting, deterring panhandlers, helping businesses create a positive image," ambassador Jamal Mohammad said.

The safety patrols began in December, but Raleigh police said it's too early to tell how effective they have been.

Meanwhile, Mayor Charles Meeker is touting the benefits of light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. The lights use 40 percent less energy than conventional lights, and a recent survey shows people feel safer when the LEDs are added to parking decks and other areas to improve visibility, he said.

"It's our intention, assuming the price works out, that these lights will be placed in new garages as we retrofit them," Meeker said. "Also, we're looking for street light LEDs, which, of course, would be everywhere."

Molly Wheatley said she appreciates the additional security measures when she's downtown.

"When I go out, I'm always scared when I'm by myself," Wheatley said. "When I have someone I can call on, someone who can escort me, it's a great feeling."

6 Comments

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  • mvnull Mar 31, 2007

    There is nothing to see or do in downtown Raleigh. Other than concerts, I have not been there at night in over a decade.

  • froggytroat Mar 31, 2007

    BOY I'M GLAD I DON'T LIVE IN DURHAM...

    wait, you mean, there's crime somewhere else...

    How shocking...

  • hi Mar 31, 2007

    This story reminds me of the signs that Raleigh Police put up on light post throughout downtown as a reminder to lock your car. However, the print is so small you can't read it unless your standing right next to it. What is the Raleigh Police doing for the people that really need them, not the ones with the money?

  • 2dinks Mar 31, 2007

    I think this is a great thing for Raleigh. Downtown is not as bad as most think. I mean it would have to be pretty good downtown for something like a safety patrol to make a difference. Imagine the same effort in Durham. The police would just spend more time saving those on the safety patrol.

  • HemiTodd Mar 31, 2007

    Funny has this has become an issue for Raleigh all of sudden. Hasn't downtown been their long before the suburbs? Now the "greed for green" has set in and become more important than the people they say their trying protect.

  • Get a clue Mar 31, 2007

    This actually turned out to be a really successfull program.