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Proposed Downtown Arena site has excessive crime, calls for police

KFOX14 Investigates discovered that police were sent to the proposed arena site in downtown El Paso almost 3,500 times last year.

KFOX14 looked at the five-block radius in the neighborhood that would be impacted by the arena and found that police are spending a lot of their time in the area, dealing with crime.

“Based on the call volume, it is higher than other locations in El Paso,” said Sgt. Robert Gomez, with the EL Paso Police Department.

El Paso police were dispatched to more than 230,000 calls in 2016. Almost 3,500 came from within the five-block radius in the Union Plaza Neighborhood.

KFOX14 Investigates obtained the list of calls keeping police busy. There are the usual traffic stops and welfare checks, but the calls also include assaults and sexual assaults, burglaries, shots fired and stabbings.

“Its kind of dangerous,” said Andy Gardea, who lives in the area.

He said that during the day, its safe. But as soon as it gets dark, it’s a different story.

“Between 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., you can hear the police going around chasing (people),” said Gardea.

Police say the number of calls is excessive for such a small neighborhood, but also point to the surrounding community.

“Because of the geographic location, it’s close to the border, all the attractions, the Chihuahuas, the stadium, Union Plaza, all those attractions, draws more people,” said Gomez.

The calls put a strain on an already undermanned department.

“Resources have to be shifted, have to be adjusted to make sure that this area is covered,” said Gomez.

It's the same area where the city wants to build an arena, but neighbors are hopeful that would lower crime in the area.

“I would say it would solve the problem,” said Gardea.

The city still has not laid out its plan for staffing security around the arena amid an officer shortage.

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