Davenport Police Work to Reduce Perception of Crime - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Davenport Police Work to Reduce Perception of Crime

Updated: June 20, 2013 10:25 PM

How safe do you feel in your city's downtown? It's an issue many in our area are looking at. And in Davenport, it's why you'll see more officers patrolling downtown.

The idea is to be visible. NETS, or Neighborhoods Energized to Succeed, officers concentrated around the city have already made a big difference in high crime areas. Now they're making a difference downtown as well, talking one-on-one to business owners, residents and visitors. Not because they say they have to cut down on crime, instead because they must eliminate the perception of it.

For officers pedaling their way through Davenport's downtown, it's a different perspective. And they say they want those who see them to change their views as well.  Police Officer 1st Class Scott Fuller says about crime, "I think there's just a perception. I don't know why. I don't see it and I ride every day." Spending hours in the saddle, at all hours of the day. Cpl. Andrew Harris says, "We're making contacts with business owners and residents and visitors, seeing if they have any questions and just being present in the neighborhood."

It's something these officers have been doing for nearly three months, making regular stops at the library, Skybridge and bus station, where they have seen problems in the past. Fuller says, "A little big of arguing, a little bit of homelessness." That's a problem they tell us they are now able to see through from beginning to end, possibly spending more time helping a homeless person find a place to stay.

Meantime, residents and visitors tell us seeing this gives them peace of mind. "It's a good idea, it's a very good idea," Dari Gebhardt says. "They're friendlier, they're better in the public, they always ask about our well-being." Officers say it is about making that one-on-one connection and building positive relationships. Easier to do on two wheels. Fuller tells us, "The bike gives us that opportunity, where the car is kind of a barrier. The door, window kind of shut everybody off." The last thing that happens when officers get off their bikes. "These people here are the reason that I do this," Fuller says. "I love this."

Of course, no area is crime free. But along with the perception that downtown could be dangerous, statistics show in two and a half months officers have cut down on actual crimes. Just downtown, from last year to this one, disturbances have gone from 119 to 107. Assaults from 17 to six. Trespassing is up, from six to 23. But police say that's because they're really focusing on that problem at places like the Skybridge.

Those numbers follow a city-wide trend.  The uniform crime report shows crime is down across Davenport over the past five years.

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