Des Moines seeks help curbing Court Avenue crime
A nightlife management firm has been hired to help resolve crime and other social problems that plague Des Moines' Court Avenue entertainment district.
Why it matters: Beyond the obvious and primary public safety factors, the vibrancy of a downtown renaissance is at stake.
State of play: Multiple stabbings, gun violence, fights and a car chase have occurred in the district in recent weeks.
- Police contend the frequency of crime is less than in previous years but the severity in violence has gone up.
Catch up fast: Court Avenue's problems have been ongoing for years.
- A two-block security barricade system tested in 2021 was scrapped after complaints from some businesses or patrons who said it was unwelcoming and instead shifted problems just outside fenced areas — doing little to help the larger district.
Driving the news: The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Polk County and Des Moines governments recently hired the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) to conduct a Sociable City Assessment of Court Avenue.
- The California-based group will create a plan to tackle dozens of issues linked with safety that include crowd control, closing times, panhandling and sound control.
What they're saying: Polk County agreed to pay part of the $81,000 cost of the assessment to help protect hundreds of millions of dollars in downtown investments, Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith told Axios this week.
- Some of the recommendations might also apply t0 other areas of the city dealing with similar issues, DSM Councilman Josh Mandelbaum told Axios.
What's next: Invite-only listening sessions are scheduled next month, Courtney Shaw, a spokesperson for the partnership told Axios Monday.
- Initial recommendations are likely to be presented later this year for implementation next spring, Mandelbaum said.
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