The increased police presence coincides with an initiative started several months ago by city, business and law enforcement leaders. Called the Inn Street Initiative, community and business leaders have been meeting periodically to discuss ways of reducing the number of youths hanging out along Inn Street and nearby areas.
"We need to figure out a way of dealing with this," Holaday said yesterday.
Holaday said the city is looking at an ordinance already established in Lynn that allows police to cite or remove those loitering within 1,000 feet of a school. Such an ordinance would give police additional teeth in the fight to combat youth crime on Inn Street, where the Inn Street Montessori School is located.
Newburyport authorities have already been keeping an eye on how the city of Lynn handles youth violence. In April, Newburyport police officer Charles Eaton was assigned to temporary duty with the Lynn Police Department's gang task force. During his time in Lynn, Eaton was instrumental in safely arresting a suspect armed with a handgun.
Some of the suggestions brought up by the Inn Street Initiative is changing the physical appearance of Inn Street or adding more streetlights. Another idea, increased police presence, has already been implemented. Another possibility is working with the county's Probation Department to reduce the number of troubled teens walking the streets.
To make sure police officers can maintain their heightened presence on Inn Street, Holaday has added a $10,000 budget item for fiscal 2012 to pay for police overtime related to Inn Street patrols.
Far too often, youths claiming to be members of wannabe street gangs with colorful names like Newburyport MFA's or the Salisbury-based Crimesquad 4 Life 3:19, meet up at the pedestrian mall and cause trouble.
In September, Ryan Burke of Salisbury, reputed by Newburyport police to be a member of the MFA, was arrested at the Mobile on The Run on Storey Avenue on charges of selling marijuana. He avoided jail time by entering a continued-without-finding plea.