So I missed the police chief's press conference where he announced yesterday at Westlake Park that SPD is adding more cops to the street in and around the trouble spot on Third and Pine-- but walking home last night there was no mistaking that we've entered a new phase in the battle against the corner thugs.
The standoff was an awkward sight. Police officers on the corners holding firm in pairs, gazing stoically at what remained of the punk kids and panhandle crowd that typically congregates there. According to the PI this morning, the enhanced police presence actually started more than a week ago, but this was the first time this daily gauntlet walker had seen the men in blue and seen them lined up like a human barricade.
Not to say this is a bad idea per se, but it's certainly not much more than a Band-Aid. Stepping up patrols, or bringing in police statues for a few-block radius may make the tourists feel comfortable, but it's only going to push the hoodlums somewhere else.
City Council is similarly flummoxed. When Third Avenue came up during a briefing earlier this week about the re-opening of the bus tunnel next month, council member Jan Drago said, "Clearly we've got issues. It's a bit of a broken-window syndrome, but it still looks seedy."
Her solution? Clean the place up. "How about new sidewalks?" Drago wondered. "The sidewalks are all filled with gum and oil. It looks shoddy."