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With more police, will Payne have more peace?
The Eastern District of the St. Paul Police Department has been beefing up its presence on Payne Avenue in recent weeks.
Eastern District Commander Kevin Casper said the new presence along the commercial corridor is partially due to a recent shooting near the intersection of Case and Payne avenues. On Monday, June 3, police responded to reports of gunshots at the intersection. Upon arriving, police saw a man fleeing the seen and chased him down. They found a gun on him and arrested him on a warrant for a prior robbery charge.
Nobody was injured by the shot fired. It was inconclusive as to why the shots were fired, Casper said, adding that he hopes to have such dramatic daytime events out of the picture by the end of the summer.
“We want to make sure that people know that Payne Avenue is a safe and enjoyable place to eat and shop,” Casper said.
He says they’ve got a cop assigned specifically to the street on each morning and afternoon shift, seven days a week. In addition, they’re parading FORCE officers up and down the street, talking to businesses and residents.
In all, Casper said the FORCE patrol has talked to over 50 people in the last few weeks.
Jim Loeffler, owner of Loeffler Shoes, welcomes the extra police patrols. His store is located on Payne not far from where the shooting took place.
“Especially during the summer months, you get groups of younger people that are congregating,” he said. “Police presence is a deterrent for that.”
Virginia Perry, owner of St. Paul Floral on the corner of Case and Payne, said it’s unfortunate such a presence is needed. She said there have been multiple daytime incidents right outside her business already this summer. In addition to the June 3 shots fired, she said there was another shooting, as well as a fist fight.
She recalled 30 to 40 kids congregated in the middle of the intersection, watching two or three kids fight one Saturday afternoon. She called the cops and when they showed up, the kids scattered, she said.
“It’s pretty nerve-racking,” Perry said. “If it’s already happening this early in the summer, what’s the rest of the summer going to look like? I’m not very optimistic.”
After the June 3 shooting, Perry said one of her employees tried to take a bus home from a stop at the intersection of Case and Payne. The bus skipped the stop.
The employee learned the following morning that the bus drivers had been told to bypass the stop, Perry said.
Casper echoed Perry’s concerns about increased mischief at bus stops, and said that also contributed to the decision to bolster the Payne Avenue patrolling. Payne has “always been busy” with pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and a handful of troublemakers can give people a feeling of unease, Casper said.
Perry said she worries about what might be occurring after the sun goes down and the shopkeepers go home.
“If it’s happening during the day, what in the heck is happening at night around here?” she pondered.
Contact Patrick Larkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 651-748-7816.