Downtown merchants can consider this the hot new gift for the holidays. The Santa Monica Police Department is opening an outpost on the Third Street Promenade and is increasing the number of officers on patrol, just in time for the busy holiday shopping season.
Located in the former Brookstone space near Arizona Avenue, the outpost will be a blend of traditional police substation and community room so that officers can respond quicker to calls for service and better interact with the general public in hopes of building stronger bonds with residents, merchants and shoppers.
There are also plans to offer gift wrapping on weekends by cadets with the police department's Explorers program, and secured storage of purchases to help cut down on auto burglaries in nearby parking structures.
"We want to have an open environment for people to come in and enjoy a cup of coffee and get to know their police department," said SMPD Lt. Saul Rodriguez, public information officer.
In addition to chatting with cops, visitors can check out the latest equipment used by officers.
Rodriguez said the substation and community center will allow officers to remain in the downtown while performing certain administrative tasks instead of having to travel to the main headquarters. That will help to increase response times and serve as another crime deterrent.
"It's a win-win for everybody."
The substation is expected to open Nov. 30 and remain open until Dec. 31.
American Realty Advisors generously donated the space for the holiday season.
Eight additional officers will be patrolling downtown's streets as well, part of the SMPD's holiday deployment.
Shoppers and merchants can also do their part to reduce crime. The key is to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings so you do not make for an easy target. Report anything suspicious and out of the ordinary. Police want to hear from you.
Shoppers can also help by not leaving any valuables in plain sight. If you make a large purchase, consider leaving at the store until you are ready to leave the downtown. If you can't, then make sure to lock the item in the trunk of your car. "Smash and grabs" are on the rise in parking structures because people leave cell phones, laptops and other high-priced items in plain sight.