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Vegas police building relationships within Chinatown community to fight crime, improve safety

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-20 14:09:19-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas officers are building stronger relationships in Chinatown.

“I feel it's less of a business relationship and more like a friendship,” Fukuburger owner Colin Fukunaga said.

RELATED: Smash-and-grab caught on camera near Chinatown

13 Action News first met Colin last year following a string of break-ins in Chinatown, which many went unreported.

Since then, business owners and Las Vegas police have met numerous times - over coffee, lunch, even off duty.

Vegas police recruiter David De Leon says historically the Asian community has been hesitant to call authorities.

“What's preventing them from calling the police for help is mistrust of police - perceived to be corrupt in other countries,” De Leon said.

So, to build trust with the community, Spring Valley officers go out to meet and greet business owners, customers, and visitors of Chinatown.

“The police department doesn't just show up when there are problems. We're here - it's a partnership day in and day out,” said Joshua Bitsko.

Currently, officers are regularly patrolling the area and checking in with businesses.

“It’s funny they'll drive by here, and people will see them, and we wave at them. They go like what's that? No, they're just making sure everything is good,” said Luis De Santos, GM of Mordeo Boutique Wine Bar.

Officers also show up to events and meet up with Asian-American leaders to talk about any issues and how to address them.

And their efforts to connect with the community paid off earlier this year when officers arrested six suspects connected to thefts in the area.

RELATED: Vegas police nab serial burglars targeting Chinatown tourists

Also, by the end of March, authorities saw a 56 percent drop in car break-ins, according to police.

“Workers are feeling more comfortable, reporting the crimes that are happening,” said De Leon.

Almost 40 percent of police officers in Las Vegas are minorities, with Asian Americans making up more than five percent of that number.

The department says it will continue to increase these numbers while business owners are keeping an eye out for each other.

“We want visitors to come back to Chinatown, we have to make sure that they understand that we're on top of this - we're safe, and we have their best interest at heart,” Fukunaga said.