Cracking Down in Old Town

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Due to a recent uptick in violent and gun-related crime in Old Town Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Police Department recently released new proposed rules aimed at attempting to reverse this crime increase.

The problem stems from past attempts to tackle crime inside of and around nightclubs after the 2013 stabbing death of an Old Town bouncer. Attempts to reduce issues then involved having a certain number of identifiable security guards per patron at the establishment. While these efforts were successful, an unintended consequence was that fighting patrons would then spill out onto the streets and continue their fight in public.

Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther announced the suggestions, which included better-maintained lines leading up to the establishment, more easily identifiable security guards, and streamlining the process with which security video can be obtained and reviewed. 

Councilmember Tammy Caputi has been a strong and vocal proponent of such changes, referencing her ride-along in Old Town with Scottsdale Police as an eye-opening experience that informed her of tangible issues within the entertainment district. Councilmember Tom Durham joined her, referencing 15 gun-related and violent incidents in Old Town from Feb. 4 to July 12.

While incidence of violent crime in Scottsdale is far below the statewide average, property crime is nearly at the national and statewide median, and the overall crime rate is actually higher on a per square mile basis than the statewide average.

That said, Old Town is a destination for many; often the central aspect of a visit to the area. The importance of their ability to generate more tourism spending, to keep people here and get them pumping more money into the local economy, can’t be overstated. Problems here can have ripple effects that may have negative economic consequences down the road for the city.

As the delta variant still stubbornly lingers inside the United States, our safety is front-of-mind, and while public health dominates the conversation we applaud the SPD and City Council for being mindful of other safety needs. We are thankful that due to proactive measures, we don’t have to worry about a breakdown in public safety that has befallen other cities such as Portland and Seattle. These are growing pains, but are pains incurred by a city that has the political strength to tackle them.