June 27, 2014
The downtown mall ambassador program has been in place for over a year. So can people and businesses tell the difference? How much of their influence on crime is about perception?
Catch the Chef food cart owner Tyler Berry has watched the crime rates go down in the past two years.
"Ever since they've put the ambassadors down here i think they've made a huge difference with that. You don't see as much hanging around down here, you used to see them on every corner hanging on...causing a lot of trouble. But those ambassadors are doing a great job."
He says their uniformed presence gives the impression that the mall is safer and ultimately that is effective for visitors.
“It lets the people know that they have someone that they can go to if they need some info and if someone is there. You know if you don't see the police around, just go grab an ambassador."
Ambassador Jerry Arbogast said he rarely has seen cause to call the police.
"You know if it happens once every couple of months. I don't know the number but it doesn’t happen very often. Anything that I feel like is a safety issue."
They end up focusing far more on helping tourists.
"We're mainly down here for direction. And just to help people out with information. Our secondary job is to watch for crime."
Quilts Unlimited and J. Fenton Gifts owner Joan Fenton says the ambassadors are just one piece of the puzzle in making the downtown mall a more attractive destination.
"I think last year when we requested more police the city responded the police department responded. I think the ambassadors have somewhat of an influence on them because at least it’s a presence down here that’s more than there was before. It’s more eyes on the mall. It does have some impact."