Increased safety measures in downtown Raleigh during Hopscotch Festival

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Saturday, September 9, 2023
Raleigh city leaders focus on safety for downtown events
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As thousands of people descend on downtown Raleigh for the Hopscotch Festival, city leaders focus on safety.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hundreds of people flocked to downtown Raleigh on Friday Night for the annual Hopscotch Festival

"I love to see people out here supporting the local community," said Tomas Torres.

He moved to Raleigh three years ago.

"I'm coming from Miami, too. So, like, you know, a place that's, like, big on having a lot of stuff to do. It's cool to see, like, Raleigh having more and more things like that," Torres said.

The festival has attracted people from up the East Coast and people from across the Triangle, like Thomas Swinn-McNeely.

"I live maybe like seven minutes from here, so I ... this is where I hang out. It's downtown for sure," said McNeely.

It's a downtown that Raleigh leaders want to see thrive. But recent crime and violence in the city center have business owners frustrated and fed up.

Earlier in the week, Raleigh Police investigated a deadly stabbing on Blount Street near the bus station.

On Friday night, officers were back on Blount Street using four-wheelers to patrol the area.

Raleigh is taking it a step further, adding another layer of security. The city announced this week that it is set to hire private security to patrol the downtown area.

"I think added security in an appropriate measure is probably always welcome. I guess it just depends on what that security is doing and what they're solving," McNeely said.

According to ABC11's Neighborhood Safety Tracker, there have been 161 aggravated assaults in the past 12 months within the Downtown Police District. Three years ago, in 2020 that number was 101.

Charlotte Langston visits downtown Raleigh often from Fayetteville. She said she typically feels comfortable when she's with someone. On nights alone, it could be different.

"I'm here with a male friend tonight ... so I feel safe. But if I was by myself or with another young lady and, you know, girls out, I would feel better with as much security as possible," she said.

The private security could start patrolling by the end of the month.

The Hopscotch Music Festival wraps up with a third and final day on Saturday.