Vandalism, drug dealing, car prowls and aggressive panhandling have been slowly losing ground in the greater downtown area, part of a cycle that manifests itself throughout the area on a regular basis. Continual vigilance and a coordinated approach to public safety, incorporating tactics derived from the well-established “broken windows” theory, have helped to reduce both the frequency and the severity of incidents.
In April, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber articulated a set of guidelines for addressing public disorder. The Chamber encouraged local government and member businesses to cooperatively address the current rise in public disorder, petty street crime and nuisance behavior in downtown Tacoma and adjacent neighborhoods; the BIA and the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council were early adopters of this coordinated approach.
Specificially, the Chamber advocated addressing public disorder through coordinated deployment of the following strategies:
- Use 911 to document problems
- Partner with others for “safety in numbers” - support renewal/expansion of the downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) and other such group efforts
- Increase police patrols (e.g., redeploy BIA bikes downtown on the swing shift)
- Incorporate Community Policing Through Environmental Design (CPTED) into new projects and renovations
- Require all organizations and programs to mitigate their community impacts in cooperation with other stakeholders (e.g., management of the Winthrop Hotel)
- Tie funding for community services and programs to implementation of evidence-based “best practices”
- Encourage public agencies (e.g., Law Enforcement Support Agency) to direct funding into opportunities for improved coordination and communication among public safety providers
Cooperative efforts involving police, other public safety agencies, citizens and businesses have helped dampen sporadic outbursts of public disorder in the past. Programs like the BIA (funded by downtown property owners) have proved effective, but ongoing success requires continual commitment from a variety of sources.