Knoxville Police Announce New Downtown Public Safety Plan
May 14, 2004 - Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Police Chief Phil Keith today announced a new safety plan for downtown Knoxville. The plan will address several issues including safety, quality of life, order maintenance, and parking control.
Chief Keith said that recent revitalization efforts in the downtown area have created new development and retail activity throughout the downtown and Old City area. As development continues to increase additional demands in traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, are expected to increase as well.
Chief Keith said, "Current estimated employee population for the downtown area is 22, 000. Additionally, the residential population has continued to climb to an estimated 1,500 residents. With at least ten major renovation and construction projects active, those numbers will continue to increase."
The safety plan will focus on three areas that have been identified as critical for maintaining public safety in downtown.
The first will focus on visibility, availability, and prevention. By using a combination of bicycle patrols, walking patrols, cadets, and mobile officers, the department will have a high profile presence throughout the area. The staffing of these officers will adjust to meet the needs of the community.
The second project will address crime and order maintenance issues. Crime in the downtown area, while relatively low compared to other parts of the city, is driven by property crimes. The most common crimes are vehicle burglaries and thefts. By working in smaller zones officers will have the time and resources to problem solve any issue that may arise. Due to their small size and maneuverability, bicycle patrols will aggressively patrol parking lots.
The third part of the plan will focus on traffic and parking control problems. The police department has joined with other city departments and downtown work groups to identify areas of concern. Traffic engineering is currently evaluating the lack of signage and curb painting. Cadets have started an aggressive parking enforcement campaign that has already resulted in the issuing of over 600 parking citations per week. The city law department and city court are working together to develop a plan to target repeat offenders who do not pay their parking fines.
Chief Keith said, "The downtown revitalization movement continues to gain momentum. The police department will continue to position itself to maintain the safety of all residents and visitors to our city."
Mayor Haslam said, "We realize how important it is for people to feel safe while working or visiting the downtown area. With the police department leading the way, every city department is prepared to do its part to ensure the safety to all who utilize our wonderful downtown and Old City areas."