JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - We're told there's a great revitalization going on in downtown Johnson City, but some are concerned crime could slow the progress that's being made.
At Holy Taco Cantina, owner Jesse Scott says he's put his heart and soul into this restaurant. Now open two years, Scott says he loves being downtown, but Sunday's shooting has him concerned nearby crime may impact his business. "It scares people from coming out late at night, which is our money-making time," adds Scott.
Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois says his department is working to increase officers in the downtown area thanks to an $800,000 grant. "What that does is that provides overtime monies for officers to work in the downtown area and the Mountain Home area, on an overtime basis," adds Sirois.
When you break down numbers comparing the first three months of 2014 to the same period in 2013, the number of crimes has actually gone down. "You don't change things overnight, it takes time. This is a three-year grant, and we're hoping that during the three years we'll see some really good progress in these areas, and that will carry over for years to come," adds Sirois.
But business owners are hoping as the weather gets nicer, police on bike patrols will return, and more officers will be around to deter crime. "Just having a police presence [prevents crime]. They're just doing the best they can to keep down on some of the violence," adds Scott.
To give you a breakdown of downtown crimes last year, at this time there were eight simple assaults; this year there have been six. In 2013, 17 thefts were reported; in 2014, eight.
The number of burglaries stayed the same from year to year.
We're told there was an increase in aggravated assaults, five reported so far this year, up from two last year.
When you look at the overall crimes, there were 69 reported so far in 2014, and 87 in January to March 2013.