Plainclothes police patrol downtown

Ashland Police Department is periodically sending plainclothes officers downtown to look for aggressive panhandling and drug dealing.

The operation is designed to reduce crime in the Plaza, said Sgt. Bob Smith.

"We've had complaints about aggressive panhandling and complaints about alcohol use and marijuana use, so we decided to do a little extra downtown," he said.

On Friday, plainclothes officers issued several citations for illegal drinking and other crimes on the Plaza between 5 and 8 p.m. In one notable incident, police cited an 18-year-old woman for being in possession of alcohol Friday night, then cited her twice, along with an another 18-year-old woman, for the same crime Saturday afternoon.

Crime downtown typically increases this time of year, as the weather warms and the days grow longer, Smith said.

"What we anticipate is that as we get into the nicer months, there will be more and more people wanting to utilize the Plaza and being out when it's nice, and along with that comes these other issues," he said. "We want to try to reduce the incidence of illegal activity."

Plainclothes patrols will continue, he said.

"It's just something that we're doing — we have something going on downtown every once in awhile," he said. "We're trying to keep our eyes on it."

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