Police statistics show the number of crimes reported in downtown Phoenix has dropped nearly 10 percent from 2007 to 2008.
Police and other experts attribute the decrease to old-fashioned police work, a national decrease in crime and a downtown building spree that has transformed the neighborhood.
The number of crimes reported in downtown Phoenix has decreased more than 50 percent since 1999.
Stepped-up patrols have cut crime, said police Lt. Jeff Lazell, who oversees the downtown operations unit, which has 42 officers who keep an eye on a relatively small downtown area.
Downtown officers are required to spend one to two hours on foot and two to three hours patrolling on bikes each shift. Each officer is assigned a block in the neighborhood, where they must get to know shop owners and residents. During major events, up to 25 additional officers patrol the area.
Officers can work much smarter than they did decades ago, Lazell said. They routinely pore over statistics to pinpoint trouble areas or a spike in certain crimes.
The unit has other eyes and ears. On most days, the Downtown Phoenix Partnership's Ambassador program has seven to 15 city guides walking around who notify police when they see something suspicious.
"We want people to come back," Lazell said. "We want them to feel safe."
Nationally, reported crime appears to be falling, according to Department of Justice figures. During the first six months of 2008 — the most recent national statistics available — the number of violent crimes and property crimes fell 3.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.
Other big cities have also seen a drop in reported downtown crime.
Since 1990, downtown Phoenix has gained the Arizona Center shopping mall, two sports arenas, a larger convention center, a slew of condo projects, more art galleries and an ASU campus.