SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - You will soon see more police officers in Springfield's downtown area. It's all part of an effort to get people to visit downtown.
"This is increased public safety in our downtown area," Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said on Wednesday.
City leaders announced more police officers will soon be lining the streets of downtown Springfield.
Instead of paying taxes, the Springfield Parking Authority is giving the city $25,000 every month to pay for the officers.
"We can have some very large deployments if we need them in the downtown area. They'll cut across all hours of the day, and we can have some small deployments with walking patrol, some biking patrol that's very popular with the business community down here," said Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet.
When asked why they chose this area of Springfield, city leaders said, simply put, these businesses make up a big part of the tax base and they need it to stay in good shape.
Commissioner Fitchet says he hopes the added police not only reduce crime, but also make people feel safer downtown.
Good news for businesses who rely on foot traffic.
"Downtown at one time was a destination with shopping, malls obviously took some of that from the area so now we are pretty dependent on downtown, walking, pedestrian traffic," said Robert Watts, owner of the Kats and Dogs restaurant in downtown Springfield.
Jorge Mogolon works and lives downtown and says he hopes to see police target the side streets where illegal activity typically occurs.
" I think that's where they really need to start going into and that will show that they're everywhere and when they're everywhere, everyone across the board will be safer," Mogolon said.
MGM International and Springfield have already negotiated $1.4 million dollars for downtown security in their casino host agreement.
City planners say they didn't want to wait to see that happen, so they're doing this now, in addition to what could come later if Springfield is chosen to host a casino.
The jobs will be extra police details or overtime hours. The department is not adding more police officers to the force with this money. They will, however, be adding about 22 new police officers later in the year.