Police, business owners work together to revitalize Downtown Madera

It's called the Business Watch Program and the goal is to keep downtown safe

MADERA, Calif. - Madera business owners and police are working to improve the downtown area and prevent crime. Police officers spent time this week talking to business owners and their customers about new program to do that.

Police call it a neighborhood watch program but tailored to businesses in downtown. The goal is to get proactive against crime and revitalize this area.

For Chris Miller, Leighton's Jewelers is everything. A business more than 60 years old, passed down to him by his father. Last October, a thief went into Miller's store and snatched jewelry without anyone knowing.

"It's just a matter of them distracting you and looking for an opportunity to get a hold of something and unfortunately that happened," said Miller.

Madera Police will increase its presence in Downtown Madera. Not just by adding patrols but connecting with business owners face to face, using them as eyes and ears to handle the issues they deal with daily.

"And once we get a stronghold down there and the program will grow, we're gonna take it throughout the city to all the business owners within the city," said Madera Police Chief Dino Lawson.

That's something thrift store owner Angela Block says is greatly needed. Right now she's using technology to keep vagrants away from her business.

The app is called iRing. You simply click here for live video. Once someone suspicious is on your property, every moment is recorded and you can easily let them know you're watching. The app can even activate a panic alarm to scare away trespassers.

Block says the homeless use the alleyway behind her store as a bathroom. She says some people tell her Downtown Madera's vibe just isn't attractive.

"As one of the business owners here downtown, it kind of hurts our business because we want people to come down here and to support our local business to keep our economy going," said Block.

Block and Miller say they're excited for the Business Watch Program to make a positive impact in their environment.

"So it's just about caring. It's about getting out there and making the community better," said Lawson.

Madera Police invites anyone who is interested in program to meet with officers at the Elks Lodge on February 13.

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