Insp. Kris Arneson of the 5th Precinct recently assigned an officer to full-time patrol of the Uptown area.
Officer Butch Blauert, a 15-year veteran in the precinct, started the 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday job Jan. 29.
Community members have requested a full-time Uptown beat cop for years, Arneson said. The area used to have full-time beat cops, but the positions were eliminated several years ago when money was tight.
An increase in police staffing this year - the city is expected to hire 43 new officers - allowed Arneson to return one cop to the beat. Arneson said it takes two officers to patrol the beat at night. She is hoping to make those additions this summer.
Scott Engel, community coordinator for the Calhoun Area Residents Action Group, applauded the return of a beat officer to the area.
“I think this is a great thing,” Engel said. “And it's great that it's a beat cop. So often they're whizzing by in squad cars, and you can't really talk to them.”
Blauert's main responsibility is to connect with businesses and community members and help them with problems such as burglary and theft. Blauert said he has already been out walking the area and meeting with business owners and members of the Uptown Association.
“I'm out there, available and happy to talk with anyone,” he said.
Unlike officers who patrolled Uptown last summer through buy-back programs, Blauert is assigned to the beat permanently.