LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The City of Las Vegas has an ambitious goal of making Fremont Street the safest tourist corridor in America, and they’ve enlisted the help of a new team to do just that.

It’s called the POP Team, which stands for Problem Oriented Policing. It’s made up of two Deputy City Marshals, Officers Janelle Mazza and Carla Espinoza.

City of Las Vegas Director of Public Safety Chief Jason Potts says they’re shifting from random patrol to a more targeted response.

“Targeted policing means looking at the data, going after the hot people in the hot places at the hot times,” Potts says. “I like to use the analogy of fishing with a spear versus fishing with a net.”

Mazza and Espinoza are focused strictly on the Fremont Street Experience and surrounding area.

Starting at 10 a.m., they spend their days patrolling the corridor on foot, building relationships with repeat offenders.

“A lot of times in the morning its residual effects from last night. So it’s a lot of folks extremely intoxicated, either alcohol or some illegal substance, and then the ongoing issues that being intoxicated creates,” Mazza says.

They’ll first offer the homeless population resources before they begin issuing citations, and as those relationships have formed the officers say it’s become easier to address recurring issues.

“It’s changed for the better, they realize we’re not just here to cite and arrest. We’re trying to help you and get back on your feet if you want the help,” Espinoza says.

One hotspot for the duo is Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. Some common citations issued include open container, pedestrian interference and smoking marijuana in public

“There’s much less things to enforce now, now that people know we’re going to be there 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., all day long. It’s just not as fun to commit the same crimes because they know we’re going to be there,” Mazza says.

The officers are also focused on building relationships with Fremont Street businesses, only being a phone call away with help if needed.

“We are on the street, and we are here to manage and mitigate the ongoing chronic issues,” Mazza says. “We just make it a point to reach out to them, build those relationships, know them by name as well”

On top of Chief Potts’ goal to make Fremont the safest tourist corridor in America, Espinoza says she has some ambitious goals of her own.

“I would hope that people that come to Vegas, not just locals but tourists, for them to realize that ‘wow it’s clean, we can come here and we don’t have to be bothered,’” she says.

Although they’ve made progress since the team’s inception in January, Mazza says there’s still a lot of work to be done, describing the homeless crisis in the area as “chronic.”

Mazza says a lot of times their attempts to offer resources are denied, creating a gap in the system that needs to be filled.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *