Modesto cops' downtown office to stay open for 30 more days

The Modesto Police Department's small office in downtown's Tenth Street Plaza received a 30-day extension to its trial period, which now will end March 1. Department officials then will decide whether it should stay or go.

Police opened the office Nov. 1 for a three-month trial period. It is at 1020 10th St., across from Brenden Theatres.

The office is used as a base of operations for officers patrolling the downtown entertainment district and its late-night businesses.

Department officials had until Thursday to assess the benefits of the office and determine whether it was needed. Assistant Chief Mike Harden, however, chose to add 30 days to that deadline to allow more time to reach a decision.

Officers mainly use the space on weekend nights for meetings, briefings, writing reports and investigations, said Sgt. Craig Gundlach, a police spokesman.

The presence of the police office has deterred loitering in the plaza, said Lt. Ron Cloward, who supervises the department's Downtown Entertainment District Unit.

"It's had a big impact on the plaza itself," Cloward said about the office. "It seems to have kept people moving on, mainly the kids who used to hang out there."

Police are especially concerned about underage teens who hang around after curfew when nightclubs, bars and other entertainment venues attract thousands of adults 21 and over.

Cloward said the number of officers needed on weekend nights to patrol the area has decreased in the past few months with the closure of three nightlife businesses, Velocity, Sin City Nights and The Nines.

He said the cold weather also has played a role, and the department adjusts its manpower to the needs and size of the downtown crowds.

The department has 10 to 12 officers and two sergeants on patrol through the area on spring and summer weekend nights. The department has four officers on patrol on Thursday nights and six to eight officers on patrol Friday and Saturday nights, Cloward said.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.