Axios Des Moines

Newsletter branding image

πŸ’§ It's Friday and we're finally making a dent in the drought.

β›ˆοΈ Weather: Thunderstorms with a high of 68Β°.

πŸŽ‚ Happy early birthdays to our Axios Des Moines members Kent Rosenberg, Neal Westin and Denise Swartz!

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 647 words β€” a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Scoop: Downtown's new police squad

Part of the new summer police squad's duties includes monitoring social media for tips about illegal activities like street racing. Photo: Courtesy of Catch Des Moines

Des Moines Police Department assigned a special summer squad to provide extra daily downtown patrol which started April 15, Sgt. Paul Parizek tells Axios.

Why it matters: Incidents like drag racing, bar fights and shootings are more common in warmer months when entertainment districts are busiest.

Driving the news: The new squad has six officers and a sergeant, Parizek says.

  • It is made up of existing patrol officers who will remain on the special assignment through September.
  • The squad is in addition to the regular downtown police beats and security provided from groups like Operation Downtown.

Zoom in: The initial focus is on common violations that diminish the quality of life downtown, like excessive speed or loud vehicles.

  • In its first full week, the squad made 12 arrests, wrote 332 citations and issued 68 warnings, according to police data.

Be smart: Most stops were made along Grand Avenue and Locust Street between 6th Avenue and 17th Street.

  • Noise violations for things like defective mufflers were among the most common citations, Parizek notes.

Flashback: A two-block security barricade system tested along Court Avenue in 2021 was scrapped after complaints that it was unwelcoming and shifted problems to other areas.

The big picture: Downtown's crime problems aren't new, but city leaders say they've contributed to the Historic Court District's decline.

  • A catalyst for change comes as billions of dollars in investments and thousands more people have taken up downtown residency in the last decade, according to a 2022 assessment commissioned by local governments.

What they're saying: The squad will require ongoing evaluation to determine what else is needed, Councilperson Josh Mandelbaum tells Axios.

  • One idea is to have an outreach worker assigned to the area to better connect people with social services.
  • Another is to coordinate with bars to better identify and prevent sexual assaults, Mandelbaum says.

Share this story

2. Mapped: AI job growth

New AI jobs posted per 100k people, Q1 2024
Data: UMD-LinkUp AIMaps; Note: AI job defined as a job requiring technical skills to build and/or use AI models; A bigger circle indicates more new jobs per capita; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The DSM metro added 68 new AI jobs in the first quarter of 2024.

Why it matters: As AI emerges as the hottest new thing in tech, cities outside Silicon Valley have a chance to get in on the action β€” and reap the potentially lucrative rewards, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kevya Beheraj write.

By the numbers: With 9.6 new AI job listings per 100,000 residents, DSM placed 37th among cities with at least 500,000 residents.

  • That's ahead of Madison (3.7), Omaha (5.5) and Kansas City (8.3).
  • San Jose (142.4), Seattle (74.4) and San Francisco (49.3) had the most.

The intrigue: DSM's AI jobs have grown from 63 total new AI jobs created in 2018 to 249 last year.

Read more

3. Your weekend plans

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios


πŸ‘— Dress for Success is holding a pop-up sale at Valley West Mall at suite #203. 10am-8pm today and 10am-6pm Saturday.

🀫 Read at Silent Book Club β€” a book club at Slow Down Coffee Co. where you don't have to talk to anyone! 6-8pm.


🐀 Enjoy birds and bagels during a guided hike at Brenton Arboretum. 7-9am. $5-$10.

πŸ› Historic Valley Junction is holding a spring sidewalk sale with discounted items in front of storefronts. 10am-4pm.


πŸ‘Ά Foster Families get to "shop" donations at Rhea Lana's at Merle Hay Mall near the Target entrance. 6-6:30pm.

Share this weekender

4. πŸ‘¨β€πŸŒΎ 1 fun thing to go: Ready, set... shop

Students in Des Moines Public Schools' horticulture program grow hundreds of thousands of plants each year, with sales helping to restock the operation or pay for activities and scholarships. Photo: Courtesy of DMPS

🧀Grab some gardening gloves β€” Central Campus Greenhouse Plant Sale starts today.

Catch up fast: The school-owned greenhouse is part of a horticulture program that began nearly 50 years ago.

  • Hanging baskets, veggies, herbs and perennial and annual flowers are part of this year's sale.

If you go: The greenhouse is next to McCombs Middle School, 201 County Line Rd. in DSM.

  • It runs until May 20.
  • 10am to 5pm Tuesday-Friday; 9am-5pm Saturday.

πŸ† Winner: The greenhouse was the answer to yesterday's "Where's Jason" contest.

  • Axios DSM reader Jeff Stewart won one of our shirts.

πŸͺ΄ A bittersweet ending: Pots & Shots in WDM was recently sold and its plant shop and cocktail bar is closed, owners announced this week.

  • They'll collaborate with other local businesses for future classes and pop-up workshops.

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.