The Rev. Jeff Putthoff, a Catholic priest who founded and runs a nonprofit that teaches young people technology skills, said drug dealers have "gone mobile," still selling but no longer doing it from one spot.
"I'm actually asked to buy drugs more than I ever have been before," he said.
Still, police Chief Scott Thomson said clearing the corners is important in advancing the force's mission of making people feel safe. "A byproduct of open-air drug markets is flagrant violence, particularly gun violence that occurs in neighborhoods."
Law enforcement alone cannot solve the issues that lead people to sell or abuse drugs, he said.
"The role that police can play in that is mitigating opportunities to commit these offenses," Thomson said.
Belma Ramos, 45, said she was never driven from her porch by criminal activity nearby. But she says it's nicer now along State Street. "Since they put in the Metro, it's cooled down a lot," she said. "It's been OK."
But Putthoff said it's a mistake to think that a drop in crime means the city is suddenly healthy.
"We know that the chronic stress that happens to people's brains actually damages their brains," he said. "The injured brain isn't healed because there's less crime."
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