HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Crime is down in the city of Huntington for the first time in 27 years.
That's according to Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook, who credits the trend to "good police work."
Terri Lovejoy, who has lived along Hal Greer Boulevard for the last 14 years, says she's noticed less people roaming the streets at night and an increased police presence.
"We've seen substantial crime reductions each year, and I think that community collaboration and engagement -- working well with our other counterparts in law enforcement is the secret," Holbrook explained.
Holbrook says he believes Huntington Mayor-elect Steve Williams brings new energy to the office, and the pair developed a working relationship while Williams was a member of city council.
Williams says just knowing the crime numbers are trending down isn't enough. He would like to see "more blue on the streets," and to do that he'd like to hire more civilians to get officers who are currently doing work in an office back on the beat.
However, with a hiring freeze and a shoestring budget, it is not going to be possible for some time.
"On the other hand, one of the best ways of reducing crime is to create jobs. We have three pockets of crime that are higher than we need them to be," Williams said, explaining those areas include the West End and the Fairfield West neighborhoods.
To make way for commercial development along Hal Greer Boulevard, Williams says plans are in the works to move the Northcott Court Housing to the Fairfield West area. When the old buildings are torn down, the idea is to make that stretch of road available for commercial use.
Another idea is to create an arts district on the West End from Ninth Street West to 16th Street -- capitalizing on the Old Central City area on West 14th.
"We are convinced that if we have a comprehensive program of aggressive enforcement, code enforcement, so this is public works, aggressive enforcement of drug intervention -- but also focusing our efforts on economic development what we want to do, Williams explained," a lot of things that can be done there.
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