The Spokane Police Department plans to create a second downtown precinct at the Intermodal Center, continuing a two-year push to focus on neighborhood-based policing.
Chief Frank Straub said planting a precinct at the combined train and bus depot will help officers reduce crime in the surrounding areas, including East Sprague Avenue, and target the center itself, which has been a “magnet” for police activity.
“What we wanted to do was get into that area and establish a base of operations,” he said.
The city owns the Intermodal Center, located at 211 W. First Ave., and currently leases the first floor to Greyhound. Several months ago, Greyhound expressed an interest in moving to the second floor, which opened up room for the department to move in.
The new precinct will serve as headquarters for the police department’s downtown operations, though the department will also keep its precinct with 15 officers near the STA Plaza on Riverside Avenue.
Under the proposal, some of those officers would move to the Intermodal Center.
Straub said police precincts improve relationships between officers and the neighborhoods they serve.
Officers attend neighborhood meetings and get to know residents, which makes them more responsive to concerns.
“Neighborhoods see our officers as their officers,” he said.
The department opened its current downtown location in summer 2013 and put officers in north and south precincts last summer.
Crime has fallen citywide since the department began focusing resources at the neighborhood level.
Violent crime fell about 20 percent in 2014 compared to 2013, and property crime fell about 12 percent.
Mike Werner, the city’s director of asset management, said the Intermodal project would cost a little under $260,000 for renovations to the building. Greyhound will pay the city about $76,000 toward the cost of renovations.
Werner said the project would likely go out for construction bids in mid-March, with an anticipated completion by the end of May.
The construction contract for remodeling the Intermodal Center would have to be approved by the City Council. Council members Ben Stuckart, Jon Snyder, Amber Waldref and Mike Fagan heard a presentation at a Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday.
Snyder, chairman of the committee, said the council members who were present seemed supportive of the project, and he expected the rest of the council would be as well.
“I see a lot of positives there – it’s property we already own, it’s a location that creates some better policing opportunities for East Sprague,” he said.
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