Police Presence Making an Impact

Posted at: 01/31/2013 5:31 PM
Updated at: 01/31/2013 6:14 PM

The two police officers in front of the Last Place on Earth are there, rain or shine, during business hours. They are part of the court-ordered ruling about the nuisance case filed by the city of Duluth. Their salaries are paid for by the Last Place.

It's been almost one month now, since they've been there.

So we decided to find out if they're making a difference. And business owners downtown, say yes.

ShelDon, which is right down the block from the store, feels the most impact.

"For us, it's been a huge improvement. The Duluth Police have done a great job of moving those people along. They're not loitering like they used to. And they don't seem to be panhandling like they used to," said Mark Fredrickson, CFO of ShelDon. He also told us some customers seem to be returning, who had avoided that area of downtown.

Downtown Computer folks told us they had mixed reviews. One woman said she felt safer when she's waiting for the bus. Another said the crowds still bother her.

When we checked with the Last Place on Earth, Joseph Gellerman, the owner's son, said that some customers said they feel like they're being harassed by the police. But on a positive note, the troublemakers who used to stand outside have been put in their place.

Bill Couture, who works further downtown towards Lake Avenue, said the very presence of officers there is comforting for other people like himself.

The Last Place and the city of Duluth are still involved in the nuisance case. However, there will be no hearings set until the court of appeals rules on Carlson's appeal of the police presence and his store paying for them.