PLEASANTVILLE — “You are on camera,” warns a sign at the door to MetroPCS on North Main Street. “If you act up! We will call the cops.”
That’s what the police want.
Officers were out on the city’s main business strip Friday morning letting owners know that they are around and are interested in what problems the owners are seeing.
The visits are the first step in what has become a regular operation that informs the public while looking for their input. This is followed by increased patrols as the “robbery season” hits full swing just before the holidays, which includes other law-enforcement agencies partnering in the city.
“We really appreciate you,” Amy Lee told Officers Ed Cressey and Brandon Stocks when they visited her Pleasant Beauty shop.
“As a business owner, it means a lot,” said Lee, who has been at the location since 1997 and also lives in the city. “That the police care whether we feel safe or not is great for the businesses, the residents and the customers.”
“You’re out here more than we are, so you know what’s going on,” Stocks told her.
A few doors down, Kathy Broomell showed her knowledge.
The co-owner of Bill Martin’s Liquor Store — which has been in her husband’s family for more than 70 years — went through the names of people on the store’s “banned list” with Cressey, the two finishing each other’s sentences as they discussed known troublemakers in the city.
“Don’t worry, we’re constantly watching,” she said.
As the initiatives have become known, arrests have gone down, Lt. Sean Riggin said. But that’s fine with him. He would rather there be no crime than an arrest.
“I’ve been here 34 years. I call,” said Alex Anton of Studio 53 Photography. “There’s only a small element in this neighborhood that creates the problems.”
He lauded the department and the initiatives, including the street cameras the city has installed.
“It helps,” Anton said. “I’ve seen less loitering. I’d like to see the guys on the bikes again.”
But right now, police manpower doesn’t allow for that, he’s told.
The initiative, however, will put a lot of extra officers on the streets for the next few weeks, something the department wants business owners, residents and those who would commit crimes to know.
“From time to time, they hang out in front of here,” MetroPCS store manager Guadalupe Guevara told the officers, who then showed her the number to call.
“I have it right here,” she replied, pointing to a number taped to her computer. “I almost called you guys yesterday.”
A customer was getting a little out of hand, Guevara said. “I think she was high.”
She called her boyfriend instead.
“Well, we mediate, too,” Stocks said.
Cressey even offered to have her test their “panic” button while the officers were there, but when she said the store owner had warned that the alarm company charges $600 for a false call, he decided against it.
“We don’t charge for an alarm call,” Stocks said.
“We would much rather come to your business for 10 false alarms than one robbery,” reads a letter from acting Chief Jose Ruiz that each business received Friday, letting them know what’s going on, along with safety tips and a form for them to list their information in case it’s not already on file with the department.
Mayor Jesse Tweedle said he’s proud of the work the officers have done.
“It’s commendable,” he said.
The officers even had some time Friday to go into the neighborhoods where there have been reported drug problems.
Talking to neighbors about the reports lets those worried know police are taking them seriously — and warns those who are committing the crimes that police are watching, Riggin said.
It also makes residents feel like they’re part of the solution.
“Then, when we (make arrests), the residents feel like they did it, too,” Riggin said. “The effect is more deep and lasting when they are invested.”
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