Police say they respond daily to crimes on North 1st Street
YAKIMA, Wash. - Whether it's for assault, robbery, prostitution or even a shooting, Yakima Police say they are called out to North First Street every single day, usually more than once.
"I would probably say everyday," said YPD Spokesperson Mike Bastinelli. "There’s something that we respond to even right now as I look on the call screen, there's two calls to N. 1st Street."
As you can imagine police receive multiple calls a day, they said so far this year they've received more than 150 calls just to the N. 1st area and last year they responded to 541 calls there.
Bastinelli said the department hasn't seen any changes through the years.
"We really don't see an increase that much but we're not seeing a decrease," he said. "Over the last few years, this problem has gone back many many years, so we’re really not seeing anything significantly changing.”
YPD data shows the number of calls fluctuate over the years. In 2013, police responded to N. 1st 494 times and it appears to decrease but then increase to 454 in 2016 and continue to climb for there.
Yakima Code Administration Manager Joe Caruso said police responding to one area of the city can become costly.
"As the more calls that come in the higher escalation goes from the enforcement side," Caruso said. "It can go from $25 to $2500 up to $25000 every time a police officer gets there or the city confiscating the building if it gets to that level."
He said the city is doing the best they can to regulate businesses on N. 1st Street with random sweeps through buildings and annual inspections with the hopes it will help the crime problem.
"So what we do is we try and clear these places out to get these illegal squatters if you will, from some of the buildings to remove them and to get the neighborhood back where it's supposed to be," Caruso said.
Police said they respond to the area when then can and have sent out special patrols before but they said it's going to take more than that.
"This is a problem that requires some really complex solutions," Bastinelli said. "So we can keep arresting people and responding to calls but there's an underlying problem."
Police said if Yakima wants to clean up crime on N. 1st Street the police department, the city, businesses in the area and the whole community are going to have to work together on a solution.