Police presence on Washington Ave. to be reduced starting Friday

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by Mike Colombo / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 9:13 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- We're keeping an eye on the recent violence on Washington Avenue.  We've learned that beefed-up police presence we've seen recently will be reduced starting friday night.

Police say many businesses on Washington Avenue are amping up their security.  Officers will return to their normal patrol levels down here.

Some things aren't changing.  The 21-and-over curfew after 10 p.m. is still in place, leaving residents and business owners to take a wait and see approach.
 
"We actually heard the gunfire from the shooting that was just a block or two away.  That's just too close to home for us," said Washington Avenue resident Megan Brandriet.
 
But Brandriet has felt more secure with more police on her street lately.
 
"Last weekend it was quite quiet downtown.  When my husband and I took our dogs out there wasn't hardly anybody on the street which was very nice," added Brandriet.

What's been good for some has been bad for others.

"You've actually really seen it affect your business over the last few weeks?  Tremendously, tremendously.  Without exaggeration," said Copia owner Amer Hawatmeh

Hawatmeh says shutting down Washington Avenue between 9th and 14th streets from late Friday to early Sunday has hurt business.  This weekend police plan to only shut down the westbound traffic.

"Will you ramp up those efforts again if you find this weekend trouble comes back?  That's always a possibility.  We like to stay on the positive side and believe there won't be problems," said Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole, SLMPD.

Lt. Col. O'Toole says solving problems will take a group effort of police, business, owners, and residents.

“It's not the police department’s job to tell them what to do.  We don't want to be big brother.  They've been successful in what they've done.  We just want to encourage them to look at how maybe they can do some things better and let them come up with the plan,” added O’Toole.

"What's going to resolve it is that we work together, we all communicate together, we have a strong police presence, we identify who the problem makers are and we get them out of the way," concluded Hawatmeh.

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