FORT WAYNE – People downtown should notice a beefed-up police presence as Fort Wayne adds a downtown beat to its patrols.
Mayor Tom Henry and Police Chief Rusty York announced the new beat Wednesday that will have two officers during business hours either on foot, on bikes, on Segway-like vehicles called T3s, or a Bobcat four-wheeled vehicle.
If we really want downtown Fort Wayne to be a place where people work, play and truly live, we need to make sure people feel safe, Henry said.
He and York both said downtown is safe already, and the new beat is about perception: Letting people see a physical police presence will let them feel as safe as they are.
You can tell people theyre safe, but they need to feel safe, York said. Its important not just to have officers in cars driving through, they already do that a lot.
Henry said the patrols, which will operate during business hours Monday through Friday, are about being visible and making people feel comfortable.
Bill Brown, executive director of the Downtown Improvement District, praised the move and said it was an example of the citys commitment to downtown businesses. The more comfortable people feel downtown, he said, the more money they will spend there.
Henry said the idea came up on one of his downtown business walks. Marika Meeks, who opened the downtown Jimmy Johns with her husband, said she appreciates the attention city officials are giving downtown businesses, especially since many have so much invested there.
Its like the citys giving back, Meeks said.
York said the patrols will continue until inclement weather halts them, and that its really not a new idea: Officers used to walk beats until the 1960s.
Really, were here to help people, York said. You can tell people theyre safe, but they have to feel safe.