Downtown Successes, Initiative Update
Boise, July 25, 2007 - Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson was joined by Boise Mayor David Bieter and the Executive Director of the Downtown Boise Association Karen Sander, in announcing a continued decline in downtown crime, a promising trend that shows safety means success.
"These statistics mean fewer people are falling victim to crime," said Chief Masterson. "They also show when we work together with the common goal of safeguarding the heart of our community, it works, and all of us, business owners, residents, customers and visitors all benefit."
At a time when more people than ever are coming to Downtown Boise for entertainment (according to CCDC parking figures), crime is decreasing.
Notably, an examination by Boise Police of the possible displacement impact of crime to adjoining areas shows the decrease in crime downtown has not been displaced, meaning the criminal acts didn't move to another area of the city. In fact, crime in neighborhoods surrounding the Downtown core has also decreased by a similar percentage to that of the Downtown.
Boise Mayor David Bieter said, "Public safety is the most important component of a livable city. Growing up in Boise I was never fearful. That's the kind of experience we should all work toward for our children and grandchildren."
"I formed the Mayor's Downtown task for last year to address these kinds of issues up front. I am pleased with the results of their work." said Mayor Bieter.
"The Downtown bars and restaurants have been more than willing to work together with City Hall and the Boise Police Department to keep Downtown safe," said Karen Sander of the DBA. "It's important to their businesses that Downtown Boise is safe. It's absolutely in everyone's best interest to work together. I am impressed with the level of cooperation and voluntary efforts of our businesses to initiate new programs that best serve Downtown patrons."
"The relationships between business owners, police and the city is the best it's been in all the years I've been working downtown," said Captain Pete Ritter of the Boise Police Valley Division, who patrolled the Downtown Boise area for more than ten years and now supervises downtown patrol teams.
"The officers working downtown today know the managers and owners of the bars and restaurants. They talk openly about issues and solutions. That communication is solving problems." said Capt. Ritter.
Beginning in early 2005, the Downtown Boise Association, Boise Police, and the Office of Mayor David Bieter began focusing on creative solutions to recurring issues that citizens were starting to notice in the downtown core area, namely more congested sidewalks, pockets of extreme traffic congestion, and a perceived increase in violent crime.
In 2006, the Mayor's office formalized the problem solving with the creation of the Mayor's Downtown Safety Task Force, whose members include Boise Police, Downtown Boise business owners through the DBA, Boise City Legal and the City Clerk, ACHD, CCDC and members from the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the Idaho State Police.
Problem Solving Initiatives:
"This has been a total cooperative effort," said Chief Masterson. "We have to include several major strategies when we talk about what's been successful. Without one, the others may not have worked nearly as well."
- Increased Street Lighting - the DBA, through a Boise City Neighborhood Block Grant has installed additional street lights in area where poor lighting had been a factor in chronic problems. New lights were installed on 6th St between Main & Grove and on Main Street between 6th and 5th Streets. In addition, some local business owners voluntarily installed additional lighting in the alleys behind their establishments. The additional lights have been credited with deceasing fights, assaults and urinating in public.
- Voluntary Elimination of "all you can drink" specials by downtown bar owners. The "all you can drink" specials were cited as one cause of excessive drunkenness that contributed to problems.
- Voluntary Elimination of "after hours" venues by downtown bars and restaurants - The owners elimination of closings that were as late as 4:00 a.m. has helped decrease problems caused by lingering of patrons, many of whom had been drinking.
- Passage of new Taxi Ordinance - early 2007 Boise City enacted a new ordinance that has calmed traffic congestion around 6th & Main by designating a nearby Taxi Zone for pick ups and drop offs. The city continues to work with Taxi cab and business owners to identify other safe, convenient Taxi zones like the newly designated taxi zone on the east side of 6th Street between Idaho and Main.
- Additional Nighttime Police Bike Patrols - In June, 2007 Boise Police downtown patrols added bikes to the foot and vehicle patrols done by officers on Friday, Saturday and other busy nights downtown. The bike patrols allow officers quicker response to parking lots, alleys, and faster mobility through congested areas.
- Alcohol Service Training for Bar and Restaurant Employees - in 2005, ongoing training began to educate bar and restaurant employees on the responsible service of alcohol. Training provided through nationally certified trainers through a state grant with the assistance of Boise Police and the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the Idaho State Police.
- Regular Meetings to share concerns, ideas - for the past two years, downtown bar and restaurant owners have met regularly with Boise Police and Boise City Attorneys through the DBA, the Mayor's Downtown Safety Task Force and met as needed to air concerns and discuss ideas and solutions. This open, continuous dialogue has built relationships and promoted open, honest discussion on issues where all have a common goal - a healthy, vibrant downtown.
- Vendor Project: early 2007 Boise City relocated street food vendors that has eased sidewalk congestion, eliminating a number of fights and assaults.
- Safety Updates to the Sidewalk Cafe Ordinance - in early 2007 the City modified the sidewalk cafe ordinance that allows cafes to stay open until 2:00 a.m., but now eliminates service of alcohol in glass bottles after midnight. Outside tables also need to be bussed promptly. This has decreased litter and injuries caused by glass bottles on the streets.
"Drink Smart" - campaign now being developed in cooperation with Boise State University, the Downtown Boise Association and Boise Police to educate and remind returning BSU students about alcohol laws being enforced around campus and the downtown area.
Stats from the Downtown Core: from Reporting districts (RD's) that make up the Downtown Core (border Fort St. on the north, 16th on the west, Boise River on the south, Broadway/Avenue B on the east):
|Downtown Reported Crime|| || || || || |
|Reported Crime for RD's:|
12, 15, 16, 19:
|Year to Date: January-June|
| ||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||06-'07 % change|
|Sexual Assault, other||5||10||6||6||3||-50.0%|
|Theft from Vehicle||60||50||62||70||46||-34.3%|
|Motor Vehicle Theft||11||18||18||16||10||-37.5%|
|Counterfeit / Forgery||23||20||19||21||5||-76.2%|