For a time, the Anchorage Downtown Partnership took an unusually active role in dealing with public safety issues in downtown Anchorage, AK. Issues that were too minor to merit a 911 call were handled by the ambassadors.
Merchants, property owners, and residents reported such issues as disorderly behavior, graffiti, panhandling, public drinking and drug use, along with issues around trash cleanup.
This led to two problems: First, ambassadors were increasingly sent into situations they were not equipped to handle. Second, the program diverted calls away from the usual emergency and non-emergency dispatch lines. That left a big gap in the dispatch call data that the Anchorage Police Department uses to assess safety needs in the area.
The ambassadors now focus on being the “eyes and ears of downtown.” And they alert police or social services providers as needed.
More on the Anchorage Downtown Partnership’s work appears in the October issue of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.