*LA: Downtown's "Purple Patrol" sweeps streets, targets nuisance

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 18 Nov 1998 13:46:32 -0400


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http://nt.excite.com:80/news/bw/981116/downtown-center
FWD  Los Angeles Business Wire - November 16, 1998


DOWNTOWN'S `PROJECT SAFE & CLEAN' EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS;
`PURPLE  PARTOL' HELPS KEEP CRIME LOW, MAKES SIDEWALKS SPARKLE


LOS ANGELES (BUSINESS WIRE) - The results are in. In a seven-month period
ending Sept. 30, the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (BID)
"Purple Patrol" has collected 165 tons of trash in the central business
hub, swept and cleaned miles of sidewalks, and worked with police around
the clock to make Downtown streets even safer.

The Purple Patrol has also removed graffiti from 235 walls and answered
questions for 7,500 visitors.

The Downtown Center BID,funded by a coalition of property owners in the
65-block central city area, supervises and sponsors the work crews, which
have been active since Feb. 23 of this year.

"It's important for everyone to know that Downtown is a safe, clean and
exciting place to live, work and enjoy, and the performance and presence of
the BID's Purple Patrol has definitely made a difference," said Tim Walker,
BID chairman and partner in Downtown-based real estate development firm,
Maguire Partners.

A battery of 45 full-time workers are on board now, with duties divided
among street safety, visitor assistance and street cleaning. Garbed in
purple shirts and Panama hats, these safety officers, guides and
maintenance staff project a friendly image and serve as goodwill
ambassadors for the Downtown area.

"I can't overstate just how important it is for vacationing tourists and
business visitors to feel safe and secure here," said Patricia MacJennett
of the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors' Bureau. "And the `Purple
People,' as we like to call them, have had a genuine impact."

She cited as an example the annual gathering of the American Society of
Travel Agents (ASTA), held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in
mid-October. More than 6,000 attendees spent up to a week in the Downtown
area, housed at 13 hotels.

Many ASTA attendees said the much-in-evidence Purple Patrol made them feel
comfortable as they walked to and from Downtown hotels, restaurants and
other attractions. "They also noted how clean the area looked," MacJennett
added. "I've been involved in attracting out-of-area visitors to the
Downtown area since the mid-1980s, and I've never seen the streets look so
sparkling."

Downtown Among Safest Areas in City

Serious street crime has decidedly decreased, thanks to the work of the
LAPD's newest Downtown safety partners. "You can say in terms of serious
crime, the central Downtown area is the safest part of the city ... The
Purple Patrol folks are our eyes and ears out there, supplementing the
uniformed officers' efforts," said LAPD Captain Richard Bonneau, formerly
commander of the Central District.

"We train the Purple Patrol staff how to deal with people, solicit
cooperation, and recognize the difference between a minor disturbance and a
violation of the law," Bonneau explained. "We teach them how to patrol on
foot or on bicycles, and how to communicate with police officers.

"The Purple Patrol workers are visible -- they discourage unruly behavior.
The street cleaning and trash pick-up set the tone, and the ambassadors
convey the impression that we care about our community."

Three-Pronged Effort: Guides, Street Cleaning and Safety

The Purple Patrol's ambassadors also make Downtown an easier place to
negotiate. Through Sept. 30, the contingent of guides handled nearly 7,500
requests for directions and general visitor questions. In addition, the BID
operates a storefront information center at 801 S. Hill St. from 7 a.m. to
7 p.m. for walk-in visitors, accessible around the clock at 213/624-2425.

Purple Patrol maintenance personnel are recruited primarily from Chrysalis,
a local organization that trains the formerly homeless. Along with brooms
and trash carts, the 12-member street-cleaning crew uses the latest
mechanized cleaning devices -- including a ride-aboard sweeper dubbed
"RoboMop," and a unique new device that sweeps and scrubs at the same time.

In November, the Purple Patrol assumes maintenance duties for a stretch of
the nearby 110 Harbor Freeway well known to Downtown commuters, between
Third and Ninth streets, as part of the Adopt-a- Highway program.

The Patrol's 33 safety officers and guides are supplied by Downtown Center
BID member Wells Fargo Security, and patrol the streets 24 hours a day,
seven days a week.

The Downtown Center Business Improvement District (BID) is a coalition of
property owners united in their commitment to enhance the quality of life
in Downtown Los Angeles. The organization aims to help the 65-block central
business district -- the Heart of the City -- achieve its full potential as
a great place to own a business, visit, work or live. Nearly 250 property
owners provide funds to the district via a special tax assessment.

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