Crime is not a big concern in Fargo, but it does exist, and the Downtown Area is no exception.
“The downtown area isn’t really different than the rest of the city, as a far as the most common crimes go,” said Todd Wahl, the Fargo Police Department’s Downtown Resource Officer. “Luckily we live in a city where violent crime is pretty low.”
“Downtown has more alcohol disturbances due to the concentration of bars,” Wahl said. “Alcohol is a big contributor to a lot of the crimes we have downtown.”
Stopping the Problem
“We pay special attention to ordinances such as consuming alcohol in public and urinating in public,” Wahl said. “The more we enforce those ordinances the less you see of it.” Wahl notes that the most frequent violators are among Fargo’s homeless population.
On Oct. 28, WDAY News reported that there are nearly 1,500 homeless people in Fargo on any given night. The next day, the Fargo Forum‘s top headline was “Fargo-Moorhead homelessness rises 29 percent in three years.”
“Some of our homeless population who are alcoholic tend to drink in public,” Wahl said. “If we enforce that ordinance, that solves a lot of other problems that stem from over consumption of alcohol.”
Creeping through your Chrysler
Vehicle prowling is one of the most common crimes in the down town area. Among several programs, Fargo Police have instituted a “Bait Car” program to catch these thieves.
“The Bait Car is a car that we’ll put on the street with alarms and cameras to let us know when someone is messing with it,” Wahl said.
Badges on Broadway
At any given moment, there are at least two officers in the downtown area. In addition to Wahl, there are two beat officers, two evening officers and two night officers. Fargo police who are on patrol in neighboring areas often float through to provide extra sets of eyes, and many downtown officers blend into the weekend crowds wearing plain clothes.
Do not pass go
“We don’t get to pick who comes here,” said Sergeant Lyndon Worden, assistant jail administrator.“Being a county jail, we’ve had everything from bad checks to murders and we house everything in between.
The new Cass County Jail houses 350 people at most. When capacity is reaches 80 percent, the jail is considered full.
Home sweet home
When an inmate first enters the jail, he or she is brought in through a garage door on the ground level of the jail.
Based on the number of people arrested at a certain time and the behavior observed by the arresting officer, the inmate will wind up in one three places:
- On a metal bench in the garage, handcuffed to a one of several short rails on the wall.
- In a holding cell, a small area with a thin mat to sleep on and a lidless, metal toilet.
- A flesh colored room with no toilet, no bed and a flushable drain in the center of the floor. (see picture)
“I call it the safety room, others might call it the rubber room,” said Worden.
Incoming inmates have their initial behavior observed to determine if they qualify for minimum, medium or maximum security. They are also forced to shower and are given jail issued clothes to change into.
After the shower, the inmates’ personal property is stored in the property room. Inmates are not allowed to bring anything from the outside in with them.
Inmates or Prisoners
Suspects in the Cass County Jail are either facing trial, or facing the consequences of their trial. An “inmate” at the Cass County Jail faces a maximum term of one year. If a judge sentences an inmate to one year and one day, they become a “prisoner” would serve their term at the state penitentiary.