The Austin Police Department is changing the management structure of how it polices downtown.
Beginning Jan. 27, APD will implement a Downtown Area Command, in which a commander and five lieutenants will be solely responsible for downtown. The current APD management structure has lieutenants managing an area that stretches from downtown to Hwy. 183.
The "downtown" area the command will oversee stretches from Lamar Boulevard on the west to Chicon Street on the east, and from Lady Bird Lake on the south to 12th Street on the north.
APD Commander Troy Gay said the Downtown Area Command makes sense given the growing challenges the area posed for police in 2012. The same patrol officers who covered downtown will continue doing so, Gay said.
"When you look at downtown, it's the only area that has the unique challenges that occur in only that specific area due to the dense population—the vertical sort of new developments as well as the entertainment districts," Gay said. "[The Downtown Area Command] just brings a different dynamic to a region and how to patrol it."
The Downtown Area Command makes sense given the mix of people and activities that happen in the area, said Bill Brice, security and maintenance director of the Downtown Austin Alliance. The decision should improve safety in downtown, he said.
"It means a lot to downtown in terms of resources and to address crime and public order issues," he said. "We are really excited about it."