RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you plan to go out in Shockoe Bottom this weekend, be prepared for some company in blue. Richmond and State Police are starting a new initiative to help protect those enjoying the nightlife.
Friday nights the atmosphere is jumping in the Bottom as Richmonders enjoy a nice dinner or head out to the clubs. According to business owner Dill Bitew, that doesn't come without obstacles.
"It's a club area," he said. "It's a bar area. Sometimes people fight and stuff like that but that's expected."
It's also unacceptable to the Richmond Police Department, which is hoping a change in tactics will help alleviate those issues. You'll see mounted patrol units and fifty extra officers on the weekends. They'll be working overlapping shifts so there are more badges on the streets at any given time.
"The people who come to the city on the weekends know they're coming to have a good time," said Dept. Spokesman Gene Lepley. "We're charged with making sure they stay safe."
The plan also changes traffic patterns.
Some business owners think closing streets will actually be detrimental to the area because it could create obstacles for patrons as they park and come and go.
"They routed to go somewhere else," explained Bitew. "They chasing out people; that's not good."
Richmond Police said it's taking that into consideration.
"We really do delay closing streets as long as we believe is possible so we make sure people can stay safe and get to their cars and get home in good order and everybody has a good time and comes back next weekend," Lepley maintained.
The efforts have convinced at least one partygoer.
"Maybe, might come down here more," said Katie Stone as she walked into Havana 59 in the 17th Street Farmers' Market.
Shockoe Bottom is first on the list of entertainment areas. In the coming months, you can expect to see similar initiatives in The Fan, Southside and anywhere else people come to have a good time.