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Mobile police precinct having positive impact in Little Saigon, neighbors say

Business owners and residents say the mobile unit is already having a positive impact on the troubled area.

SEATTLE — Two days after Seattle police set up a mobile police precinct in a trouble spot near 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street in Little Saigon, neighbors say they see a noticeable difference. 

Some businesses have already closed. But community members hope it's a step in the right direction. 

You can't miss the police presence. On Sunday, flashing lights of the mobile precinct van could be seen on one side of the street, while officers patrolled the other side. A police SUV was tucked into a different strip mall across the street.

Typically, people would be concerned to see so many officers, but there's been too much of something else around here in recent years.

"I like it, I feel safe," Thu Van Nguyen said. "Look at this sidewalk, they're all clean."

Nguyen said she hasn't enjoyed a walk to a neighborhood restaurant in years.

"This is where I live, where I shop, and for the last two years I was so afraid," Nguyen said.

Business owners have seen the issues firsthand - drug use, violence, homelessness.

"I feel for a large degree the system has failed this community for a long time," Linh Thai said.

Thai is with the community group Friends of Little Saigon, which is working toward a long-term solution to the current issues, even after police disband the mobile unit.

"What requires a more permanent solution is a sustainable strategy. Multi-prong strategies. Agencies from various levels of jurisdiction talking and working with each other to provide a strategy that works for most," Thai said.

There's no doubt after a weekend with the mobile precinct, things are different. 

Seattle police haven't put a departure date on their mobile precinct. They will stay as long as resources allow.

Business owners and residents hope there's no going back.

The neighborhood is organizing a monthly community cleanup. The first is scheduled for March 5.

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