NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Thursday, the Metro Nashville Police Department rolled out a new strategy to get crime under control in the downtown area. Violent crime has increased in the Central Precinct in the past five years, while property crimes like break-ins more than doubled.

“We are going to have units that are going to be hovering in the area, that’s going to be checking parking garages, parking lots, alleys, Printer’s Alley, the bridges. So, we’re going to have all of that going on,” said Officer Keiara Ward, who is now part of the city’s first unit dedicated to crime downtown.

It’s being called the Entertainment District Unit, and it’s bringing together more than 30 officers, centralizing them in one area. In 2019, the department created the “Entertainment District Initiative” to address public safety concerns by adding additional officers who were staffed on a volunteer basis.

Now, this new unit will have a dedicated staff.

“We want to make sure we provide a very safe and peaceful atmosphere for them to come and to make sure they really enjoy our city,” explained Ward.

The initiative is rooted in building connections with businesses, as well as the community they are sworn to protect.

“In the downtown area, we’ve seen a little bit of violent crime. We’ve seen robberies, we’ve seen stabbings, shootings, etc., but I believe this unit is going to help with that. One, with visibility, having the resource in place, but two, we’ve made a significant impact throughout the city. We’ve made arrests of some very violent individuals,” said Metro Police Chief John Drake.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, Drake performed a roll call, bringing in the new officers before they were assigned to their designated areas. In his speech, the chief stressed the importance of working as a community and unit in order to keep everyone safe.

“Nashville continues to grow. People continue to come here at a rate of 100 people a day,” said Drake. “We wanted a dedicated resource to work the downtown corridor — people, officers, that know the code violations, that know the quality of life concerns, to build a rapport with the merchants in the downtown area, all working on one accord to reduce downtown crime.”

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The Entertainment District Unit will operate Thursday through Sunday every week.