First Street crime survey results released

All Game, a vintage video game supplier in downtown Duluth, was vandalized last week, but owner Karleen St. Germain doesn’t believe crime at her First Street location is any worse than other places in the city.

“I don’t really think it’s any more or less in the downtown area,” said St. Germain, who has called the police five times in 3½ years. “It seems crime can be anywhere.”

St. Germain’s mixed reviews match the inconclusive results from an informal study into perceptions of crime on First Street in downtown Duluth.

The survey conducted by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce asked business owners questions to see if crime on First Street from Fifth Avenue West to Sixth Avenue East is worse than other downtown areas. The results were compiled about two weeks ago and were presented last week to Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsey.

One survey question asked, “Do you feel there is more criminal activity on First Street than in other downtown areas?” Of the more than 50 businesses surveyed, 23 said “yes” and 25 said “no.”

A follow-up question asked, “If yes, does this undesirable activity affect your business?” The responses were split 12 “yes” and 12 “no.”

“It was inconclusive,” said Linda Kratt, the chamber’s director of member resources and retention, who conducted the survey. “It was helpful in showing that there is not an over-the-top problem on First Street. We were able to show that First Street is OK and to go patronize those businesses.”

Another question asked, “Have you ever needed to call the Duluth Police Department for crime-related activity in or out-side your business premises?” Twenty-five businesses said “yes,” 17 replied “no” and 10 did not give a definitive response.

The top two unsolicited responses gave praise for the Greater Downtown Council’s Clean and Safe Team and called for more beat cops on the street, study results show. And the top two negative complaints were public drunkenness and panhandling.

The survey included more than 20 comments about the Kozy Bar at 129 E. First St., including positive comments about police monitoring activity at the bar and negative comments about people that frequent the bar.

… What are your views about crime on First Street? … And what questions would you like Chief Ramsey to answer about crime along First Street?

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