Fremont Street Experience is Getting a Police Substation
Today in knee-jerkery: Fremont Street Experience (FSE) is getting a police substation.
The announcement comes in response to what’s been hysterically and irresponsibly referred to as a “2022 crime wave.”
We’re going to need more faces and palms for all the WTF related to this story.
The story describing the “spate” of criminal activity leading to the new police substation included one shooting. There were actually two serious incidents. In a year. In a destination where tens of millions of people visit.
Anyway, Fremont Street Experience is the golden goose downtown, and everyone freaked out about the shootings, so now there will be a police substation.
The new police substation is expected to open sometime this year.
The substation will sit in a space near the base of the SlotZilla zipline take-off tower.
The substation will reside in the spot where the “Fear the Walking Dead” attraction sat before it closed in April 2019 after losing a butt-ton of money. (We did digital marketing for Fremont Street Experience at the time. Not our fault! The licensing fees made the venue unsustainable.)
You might say the 7,730-square-foot space will be reanimated.
At one point, Fremont Street Experience had a tenant lined up, Trick Eye, but the deal never came to pass.
After that, the space has largely been idle. At one point it sold Raiders merchandise.
A number of potential tenants have been interviewed by Fremont Street Experience, but all the applications were rejected. We trust that’s because the only viable business in that spot would have to serve liquor, so the members of the Fremont Street Experience board (all casino operators and owners) wouldn’t be thrilled about that, so those deals were nixed.
Having a police substation solves a number of problems for Fremont Street Experience. Namely, the City will now pay $12,000 per month in rent, utilities and maintenance.
FSE is off the hook for finding a tenant for the long-empty space, and it won’t contain anything that will compete with the casinos.
It will also give FSE a place to put its security command center. The security team has outgrown its space on an upper floor of the same building (often referred to as the “Red Garage,” which FSE owns and operates).
FSE’s security staff will share the substation with deputy city marshals and Metropolitan Police Department officers.
The new substation is being billed as part of a larger program, Operation S.A.F.E.R. (Stronger Alliance For Enforcement and Relationships). “The program aims to be proactive using data, leveraging technology and building relationships that create and sustain a safe place for people to live, work and visit.”
See why we keep running out of palms and faces?
No one’s arguing there isn’t a public perception problem related to safety on Fremont Street, but that’s more the result of social media virality and reckless news reporting than any real spike in crime.
Anywhere large numbers of people gather, there are going to be asshats, and asshats gonna asshat. You can’t stop random acts of stupidity, at least not without Draconian measures nobody in America is going to tolerate.
So, we get symbolism and safety theater to try and calm nerves and assuage freakers of the out.
For example, FSE recently announced it was rolling out an “A.I.-powered security system.” The perception something’s being done is as important as something actually being done.
A substation’s value is questionable, but a greater police presence on Fremont Street certainly couldn’t hurt.
Fremont Street Experience security guards do a fine job, despite being underpaid, but they’re sort of toothless when it comes to actually intervening in crime. They’re basically relegated to taking verbal abuse and being walking security cameras. They observe and report crimes to Metro, and are generally discouraged from interjecting themselves into volatile situations due to liability. (It’s the same reason casino cage robberies have increased recently. Crooks know casino security guards can’t risk a shoot-out inside a casino, so they can go about their nefarious business without fear of capture until a day later because casino robbers fall into a class of humans referred to as “complete idiots.”)
Anyway, more Metro on Fremont Street would be awesome. On nights when there are more Metro officers on the street, you tend to see them standing in one spot chatting it up, typically at Four Queens. Why? Because in the summer, the entrance to Four Queens is the coolest spot. In winter, it’s the warmest spot. Metro officers aren’t dumb.
A substation will be a centralized place for people to report issues on Fremont Street. We will personally visit to inquire about why existing ordinances aren’t being enforced. You know, like the one about maximum volume levels from busker amplification systems. Or the one banning dogs on Fremont Street. And bikes. And skateboards. Or the one banning cans and bottles. Or the one where it’s illegal to open or consume package liquor from gift shops within 1,000 feet of the store where it’s purchased.
Stepping up security on Fremont isn’t a bad idea, it’s just that the execution has left a lot to be desired. For example, some nights, there are security checkpoints with metal detectors and wands. The checkpoints are in the most visible spots, but if you walk a block north or south, casino entrances don’t have security checks at all.
We love Fremont Street, and it continues to be very safe given how many people visit and how shitfaced so many of those visitors are.
Ultimately, it’s a delicate balance between security and freedom, and it’s a challenge all big venues are facing.
We all face risks whenever we go out into the world, but we have weigh those risks and put them into perspective.
The biggest physical threat on Fremont Street Experience is the volume of the music. Don’t get us started.
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