Court Avenue takes three-pronged approach to upgrade security

Changes will take effect March 1

By Jacob Peklo |

Published 02/05 2016 11:07PM

Updated 02/06 2016 12:48PM

DES MOINES - Questions about security on Court Avenue are now being answered with some big changes.  A committee that's been meeting since the summer time revealed their plans to upgrade security Friday, including additional cameras and police officers.

A late November homicide in the Des Moines Entertainment District raised a lot of concerns about the safety around Court Avenue. It's all being done to create a greater level of transparency for the city."

"When we identify the problems down there and you look at the stats, and pour over the cases, there's nothing more frustrating than having an issue that you know that you can't solve by yourself,” said Dana Wingert, Des Moines’ Police Chief.

Des Moines police will soon have a greater presence inside the entertainment district. Six officers will be downtown every weekend, as well as for other major holidays throughout the year.

"Nobody is going to be thinking that we're going to be hunting people down and who doesn't have an ID and did somebody litter, this is about helping people enjoy our city,” said Chris Coleman, a city council member.

In addition to extra patrols, local businesses will install better lighting and not just on the main streets, but in the alleys and side streets as well.

"We're blessed as a city and a county to be on the radar for national events. In less than two months, we're going to have the NCAAs here,” said Wingert. “That's a big event for Des Moines, Iowa, and we take that seriously."

All total, the project will cost about $220,000, with contributions from the city, county and others.

Local restaurants and bars had invested in security in the past, but now local restaurants and residences are on board as well.

"I think that's what makes Des Moines so unique is the fact that you have all these stakeholders and partners coming together to address this issue,” said Christine Hensley, a city council member.

"The nine cameras will be rather obvious to anyone who's downtown. Authorities say the effect is not meant to be like Big Brother, but to promote a higher level of safety all around.

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