Merchants along South Nevada Avenue began organizing a few years ago with dreams of cleaning up their business district, attracting tourists, and lowering crime.
For a while, it looked like they were going to make it. It was their efforts that got the crime-ridden Cheyenne Motel shut down. Their efforts that led to plans for new development. Their efforts that convinced the police department to spend more time working the South Nevada beat.
But now, it appears most of that progress has been sucked up by the recession. Today, Police Detective Olav Chaney sent the merchants an e-mail. He and his small team wouldn't be able to respond to their concerns anymore, he wrote, because the team is being disbanded — part of reorganization in the police department due to budget cuts.
It's too bad for the merchants, because Chaney and his team had made quite a difference along South Nevada — cutting back on violent crime, prostitution and drug dealing. And Chaney and his team behaved like true neighborhood cops — coming to merchant meetings, handing out their phone numbers to business owners and residents, even checking a merchant blog for leads.
Here's the letter he wrote to Bill Kenline, leader of the merchants group:
I would like to take this opportunity to let you and the South Nevada Merchants Association know that our team is being disbanded. We will no longer be responding to any pages or working the South Nevada Avenue Corridor effective sometime this week or next week. It has been an honor for me to be a part of making a difference in the South Nevada area. I am proud to report we have been able to keep the prostitution problem to a minimum averaging approximately 5-10 arrests a year compared to a record number of 84 when we first started this program in 2003. Together we have shut down two major problems which include the Cheyenne Motel and the Morgans Cove Apartments on East Brookside Street. I have seen a slight increase in activity at the Chief Motel and hope each and every one of you continues to remain diligent and report any issues that arise to the dispatch center. I unfortunately believe it will be just a matter of time before the criminal element will realize we are no longer in the area and will again try and take over the corridor.
I do not think even City Council can save us this time. Again it has been an Honor to serve you all and have appreciated all the support!
Making a Difference,
One Day at a Time