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Manchester's downtown: Police need to step up presence

Manchester's Police Department has promised to address downtown safety issues brought up repeatedly in various forums in recent months, including those held by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. That is a promise that needs keeping, especially now that the department has received funding for five more officers.

A worried business owner, who has just invested more into our downtown, told us the other evening that if the police presence were even half as visible as that of parking enforcement, it would make a difference.

"Just an officer walking a beat would help," he said, noting that used hypodermic needles had been found in a rear alley that day. Employees are routinely accosted on their way to work by aggressive, intimidating panhandling. Two shootings not far from downtown last week also underscore safety concerns.

Police Chief David Mara has told businessmen of his strategy for dealing with a problem that threatens to stain the good things that are happening downtown. The mayor and aldermen have given him some much-needed tools. We are confident that the chief will now use them.

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