New Police Station Should Be Located In Downtown Core

By  John Derby
Times Publisher
September 29, 2016

A major issue in the coming election is safety in Merced’s downtown core, as well as in south Merced.
With the addition of 370 more employees planned for the new UC Merced Downtown Center, the safety of these employees as well as the safety of all people in the entire downtown area, becomes even more important.
At the same time, the city intends to move it’s Police Headquarters even further from the downtown core, to the old Merced Sun Star property on G Street north of Alexander.
Is this decision wise?
Or is this decision predicated on the basis of what is the cheapest way to provide a new location for the city’s Police Department?
Certainly the Merced Police Department needs a new and bigger building than the cramped quarters on M Street near Courthouse Park.
Wouldn’t it be wiser to demolish the old bowling alley — the Continental Bowl and Restaurant — at the corner of 18th and N Streets, across from City Hall, and some additional space occupied by nearby residential/commercial property?
If anything, the need for more police safety in the downtown core and in south Merced, should outweigh the monetary savings of having the station where there is little crime.
Safety is such a critical concern in downtown Merced, and that it is part of the reason there is such a high vacancy factor in the business buildings on Main Street. While UC Merced may bring campus police to monitor the new administration building across from City Hall, it’s unsettling to think the city would depend on that for its downtown policing.
Starbucks’ recent exodus from Main Street to 16th Street had to have been a result of the homeless camping on its front door step.
The mere presence of a police station — with police cars coming and going at all times of the day and night — will help to prevent crime in the surrounding area. There is little crime around the police station west of M Street, and there will likely be little crime at the G Street location.
While the city has offered incentives to get new business to locate in downtown Merced, this is just not going to happen unless people feel safe.
Let’s rethink moving the Police Department out on G Street, and return it to the downtown core where it can really bring a major change to the future of Downtown and south Merced.


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