The Indy‘s report on the city’s move to add Community Service Officers in the downtown corridor carried the odd wording that the city “cracks” down on street people.

I find it odd and bereft of your usual credibility because I can’t seem to find any prior reporting on what you call the street people who have been saddling on the State Street businesses, local residents and visitors for some time now.

We’ve apparently been asked to accept, as today’s normal, illegal and threatening behavior, abusive and vulgar comments, bodies strewn across the sidewalks, location gauntlets to walk through, encampments on public benches, and little or extremely tardy response from law enforcement. Despite your assertions, it’s certainly not the “at-times” or “occasional” ill-mannered people or bad behavior that has led to protracted complaints. A business or shopper in the downtown corridor can expect this type of environment any time of the day or night.

Councilmember Murillo was quick to chastise no one in particular about exaggerating the problem, and the importance of sticking to facts. Hopefully she can agree to these — State Street is the focus point and resulting economic driver and source for every city program and service she holds dear. The city and businesses invest tens if not over a hundred million dollars annually in how it looks and feels, its goods and services, its employee costs, and the infrastructure upkeep. Every local resident is a direct beneficiary of State Street’s successes. Yet we stand by, watch, cringe, walk the other way, and take little action as our investment and, more importantly, our returns that fund every city program and service erode each time an unpleasant encounter takes place. Residents give up; visitors won’t return; social media carries the message and pictures far and wide.

As a small investment of city funding, an increased uniformed presence as a resource for businesses, locals, and visitors will help restore a level of normalcy in the downtown corridor. Far from cracking down on street people, stepping up the authority presence on State Street just helps in asking everyone to behave nicely. Its returns will benefit the entire community.


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