It was once considered one of Sioux Falls' most crime riddled neighborhoods. But Pettigrew Heights, in the heart of the city, has made significant changes to the area over the last few years. Neighbors we talked with say those efforts are paying off.
Just recently Sioux Falls police carried out the Walk A Block With A Cop campaign in the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood. It's one of many patrol efforts that is making neighbors feel safer about where they live.
"I moved here about four years ago and I'd say I wanted to live here, because it's within walking distance of downtown, but yet it wasn't exactly like downtown with all that concrete, it has yards and it has a lot of grass and I like that," Kathryn Henning said.
Henning is one of those who helped start the Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association last year.
They meet regularly to talk about ways to keep the neighborhood safe. They've started three neighborhood watchdog groups and hope to add more in the future.
"If there's any suspicious activity, they report it and that's what we encourage people to do, if there's anything happening we're all watchdogs and we report it instead of just let it happen, because that's how you make things stop," Henning said.
Three thousand people live in Pettigrew Heights. Through a city program landlords have been able to fix up some their properties, others still could use some work.
The association also made improvements to this area called The Pettigrew Triangle where families can come and relax. They've also improved lighting, trimmed tree branches and bushes in the 59 square block area as well as put in a community garden.
"I think right now we are on an upswing," President of the Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association Mark Sanderson said.
Mark Sanderson says a combine effort between police and people is making a difference.
"I think part of it has to do with an attitude of the people who live here," Sanderson said.
Volunteers have even cleaned up areas along the railroad tracks.
"Some of it is just looking at what you have here and appreciating what you got," Sanderson said.
"I think most people feel living in Pettigrew Heights area, really do feel their neighborhood is safe," Lt. Galen Smidt of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
But police say there are still problem areas. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon just this week, police responded to a call of three intoxicated subjects and a possible parole violator. One man was handcuffed and hauled off to jail.
Police say approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of the calls they respond to now are disorderly and intoxicated subjects; calls that are more officer initiated instead of citizen calls.
"Through our foot patrols and regular business contacts, we are able to make those types of arrest if needed or contacts sooner rather than later," Lt. Galen Smidt of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
Police say having that presence has also helped deter crime.
But probably the single biggest thing that has helped turn things around here are the neighbors themselves.
Sanderson says it's all about a change in attitude.
"I think we are cheerleaders saying look, this is our neighborhood, affirm, adopt it, make it your own, do whatever you can to make it a safe and good place to live in," Sanderson said.
The next Pettigrew Heights Association meeting is October 24 at the first christian church starting at 7p.m.