‘Blocks I would never walk’: Downtown businesses band together to curb crime, keep people safe

SPOKANE, Wash. — Downtown businesses are worried about the state of their community. Some are even investing their own money to keep employees and customers safe.

Now, they’re banning together to keep families safe when they come downtown.

“It is important to understand the crime statistics and data, but that is just one piece of the story,” said Katy Bruya, the Chief Human Resources Officer for Washington Trust Bank.

New statistics from the Spokane Police Department show property crime is down 37 percent over the past five years. However, Bruya says that doesn’t show the full picture.

“There are certain times of day, and there are absolutely certain blocks I would never walk my kids down,” she said.

Washington Trust is one of the largest downtown employers and its been there since 1902 with no intentions of leaving. However, Bruya’s concerned the downtown district isn’t living up to its full potential. That’s why the bank is leading the way to start a coalition of other local businesses to address their concerns surrounding mental health, homelessness and addiction issues.

“We’re here to partner and create collaborative solutions that are compassionate and meaningful,” Bruya said.

Twenty businesses have jumped on board so far and are working together. The bank’s also hired Chris Patterson, a former Trump official in the White House, to come up with ideas. The city’s working on the issue as well and understands the frustrations local business owners have.

“It’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight,” said Brian Coddington, the city’s spokesperson. “It’s not happening as fast as anybody would want it to happen, us included.”

He says it’s good news to see these private businesses come together. He also says the city’s working to expand homeless services and help people get back on their feet.

To address a widespread issue, it’s going to take lots of people from different sectors to spark change.

“We are committed to seeing a thriving downtown for everyone,” Bruya said.

They want to work with other people in the community to achieve these goals and are hoping to partner with homeless service providers, mental health experts and city leaders as their coalition grows.

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