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Downtown arrests spike 17 percent after police adopt new strategy

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North Main is just one of many streets considered part of Rochester's core downtown. (Courtesy photo)

ROCHESTER - Rochester Police apprised the city's Public Safety Committee on Wednesday that they had made almost 150 arrests in the city's downtown since an increased police presence had been initiated there in mid-July.

Deputy Chief Gary Boudreau said after reviewing data collected in the past two months they had found some 944 officer-initiated contacts conducted during various methods including traffic stops, bike patrols, and footbeats in an area designated as downtown comprising from the Commons on South Main to George and Ed's on North Main. The area also includes other downtown streets such as Lafayette, Chestnut, Pine, River and Signal.

Boudreau characterized the number of arrests as "pretty high" and said the 149 collars ranged from serious offenses like fugitive from justice, domestic violence, DWIs and drug possession to disorderly conduct, possession of liquor and public urination.

In addition Boudreau reported that 128 offense reports had also been filed within the same downtown area.

"The people are seeing more of a police presence downtown," Boudreau said. He added that some of the activity police were dealing with and trying to clean up wasn't necessarily illegal, but many would characterize as "unsightly."

The Police Department's switch in how it deploys its resources came about due to public sentiment vocalized during a July City Council workshop addressing unsavory behavior in the downtown.

Boudreau said that subsequent to that a decision was made to focus more officers in the downtown on bike patrols and footbeats. Officers not assigned to specific duties who had formerly patrolled specific areas of drug activity throughout the city were instead concentrated in the downtown.

In the 60 days prior to the July strategy change 127 arrests were made, indicating a 17 percent increase between the two months prior to mid-July and the two months after.

Boudreau noted that while the arrests numbers in the downtown did appear high, the overall property crime rate for the city was down from a year ago at this point in time by some 18 percent.

While noting that a woman's Hanson Street apartment had been burglarized at 6 a.m. earlier this week while she was in the house was disturbing, Boudreau said overall burglaries are also down.

What made the Hanson Street break-in more disturbing is that most residential burglaries happen during the day when homeowners are at work, Boudreau noted. A burglary like this one - when the owner is still on the premises - can be very dangerous, he added.

Walker said he hoped the downtown patrols would continue in the future.

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