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Downtown businesses pay for added safety patrols

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Downtown Indianapolis businesses are pitching in to add a little extra security to downtown streets.

Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., has reinstated a program that will pay off-duty officers to help supplement law enforcement patrols as well as help visitors find their way around Indianapolis.

‪Lena Sizemore and her family are regular visitors to Indianapolis, but the Fort Wayne mother still struggles explaining whether they feel safe downtown.‬

‪”Honestly, during the day a little, during the night time absolutely not,”‬ Sizemore said.

‪That type of concern is part of the reason why Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., has decided to pay for some extra help.‬

‪”Our officers will be patrolling downtown on bicycle and foot,”‬ said Bettye Dobkins, Director of Safety and Security for Indianapolis Downtown Inc.

‪Dobkins was among the first Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers to take part in IDI patrols when they began in 1995. For more than 15 years, the IDI patrols helped supplement law enforcement efforts downtown, but the program was discontinued in 2011. Now, downtown businesses have decided to bring it back, funding uniformed patrols that will look similar to those already performed by police.‬

IDI will pay for part-time patrols by two off-duty officers four days a week. Weekly schedules will vary depending on events, but officers will patrol for four-hour shifts from either 4-8 p.m. or 5-9 p.m.‬

‪”Calls for police service are highest during those hours,” Dobkins said, “so our officers will be able to assist and augment that.” ‬

‪Because the officers will come from area agencies, Dobkins said they’ll be both helpful to tourists and to fellow officers as they tackle hot button issues like panhandling and youth-related crime.‬

‪”With all of the media reporting of crime downtown and the youth, I think it’s just an extra little safety net,”‬ Dobkins said.

‪”It’s a good idea, especially for a family like mine,” Sizemore said. “With my children, bringing them downtown for all the attractions here, you don’t get these attractions in Fort Wayne. We like to come down here, and to know I would be safer in the streets is, it’s a very good feeling.”‬

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