Officers known as the ‘street crew’ have returned to patrol the downtown to prevent crime at peak times thanks to resources being available to the detachment here.
The street crew, known more formally as the Crime Reduction Unit (CRU), began in in early 2009 as a couple of officers who would spend their shift walking, biking or driving their van around the downtown area, including George Little Park, to have a police presence and deter crime and criminals..
Downtown businesses, who had requested an increased police presence to keep away troublemakers, reported that the number of incidents between potential customers and panhandlers or drunks had decreased dramatically thanks to the crew.
And families came out to enjoy the park again, as noted by police at that time.
What started out as two officers soon moved up to four for better coverage of the downtown for more hours.
In 2011, the crew dropped to three officers due to a lack of manpower with job vacancies and maternity leaves.
Due to officer numbers, the unit was melded in with the four watches in the summer of 2013.
Instead, officers from the four watches would take time out of their duties to patrol the downtown with mixed results.
At the city council meeting May 21 of this year, city councillor James Cordeiro said that the activity downtown was the worst he’d ever seen.
At that meeting, Hart announced the return of the crime reduction unit with two members.
The CRU has been back up and running, independent of the watches, for nearly a month now, said Hart July 17.
“There are two members full-time on CRU plus we have added extra shifts for downtown patrols during peak periods,” he said.
The unit is also focussing on the other priorities of monitoring people on conditional sentence orders, basically house arrest, or those on probation, added Hart.
“We want to ensure the public feels safe,” said Hart.
General duty officers are also doing foot patrols and talking to people to help out as they can.
And if the public doesn’t see uniformed officers around, it doesn’t mean none are out and about as there could be plainclothes officers around, he said.