Police, community leaders: First Fridays reduce downtown Phoenix crime

[Source: Channing Turner, ASU Web Devil] — In the cool November air, Community Action Officer Scott Melander leans against the side of a patrol car and surveys the line of First Fridays vendors stretching down East Garfield Street in downtown Phoenix.  Melander knows this neighborhood well.  Of the 20 years he has worked for the Phoenix Police Department, he spent 18 working downtown.

Over the past six years, Melander said he watched the neighborhood improve drastically, and the monthly art walk has become so popular that the city plans to expand it in January.  “[Before,] we had gang activities, shootings and drugs,” he said.  “People were walking around with open containers of alcohol, which is illegal.”

Melander said a combination of building renewal, committed homeowners, ASU’s downtown presence, and Phoenix’s First Fridays art walk have revitalized the area and significantly decreased crime.   “We started clearing [crime] out,” he said.  “We had more art galleries move in and had homes purchased by people invested in the neighborhood.  That really made a change.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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