ST. PAUL, Minn. -- St. Paul's west side is the heart of the city's Latino community. Over the last several years, the west side has seen tremendous growth. St. Paul Police Commander Rob Weier has watched it happen.
"The neighborhood is very rich in community involvement," says Weier.
Weier is now leading a unique effort to keep the west side flourishing and safe. With growth has come an increase in some types of crime. Police have seen an uptick in complaint calls related to what they describe as quality of life crimes - noise, nuisance, fights and loitering. Also, burglaries are up 10 percent on the west side from the same time last year.
Neighbors watching out for neighbors is exactly what police are counting on. But for the next month, more police officers than ever will be watching as well. Police have launched a saturation effort, drawing from the department's different specialties - bikes, motorcycles, squad cars and foot patrols.
"The idea is that we can do a couple of things, talk to the community and find out their concerns and then we can use our statistical mapping that tells where the crimes are occurring and then we can respond appropriately with several police officers," Weier said.
KARE 11 tagged along on day four of a month-long saturation effort. Seven days a week, an extra 10 to 15 officers will be patrolling on the west side at any given time, something the department has never done before.
"The goal is to make sure that some of these issues don't become a problem... preventive maintenance," said John Keating with the St. Paul Police Department. "We want to make sure that this neighborhood stays as good a neighborhood as it is."
The idea is a partnership between police, community groups and residents to create safer streets, safer neighborhoods and safer homes.
"On the west side we hope for what every neighborhood hopes for," said Elena Gaarder of the West Side Citizens Organization. "It's a partnership all about maintaining the west side as a great place for families to live."
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)