The expansion of beat officers in the Downtown Eastside has decreased violent crime in the area by 16 per cent, a deputy chief constable told the Vancouver Police Board yesterday.

Adam Palmer, previously district commander for the Downtown Eastside, said additions to the beat enforcement team have substantially increased police visibility and reduced violent crime in the area.

In 2009, violent crime in the DTES increased by 10 per cent. The biggest driver is minor assaults, Chief Jim Chu said following the public portion of the police board meeting.

Other violent crimes include serious assaults, robberies, and shootings.

“Violent crime is our focus,” Chu said. “We have a goal to drop it down 10 per cent over a five-year period.”

In November, the VPD increased by 12 the number of beat enforcement team officers in the Downtown Eastside.

The rise to 72 officers allowed the department to reconfigure from four teams of 15 officers to six teams of 12, Palmer said. It permits more officers “walking the beat” during the busiest times of day.

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