Main Street safer thanks to “red shirts” like Donzell Falkner

For Donzell Falker, keeping an eye out on Main Street has been a steady job for four years now.

Falkner is one of the “red shirts,” employees of the Main Street Community Improvement District tasked with “promoting the general welfare and common good” of the Main Street Corridor from 27th to 47th Streets.

Falkner, who recently got promoted to sergeant, oversees a team of officers who cruise down Main Street on their bikes, monitoring activities, assisting with emergencies, responding to calls from business owners, and helping out visitors and residents.

A typical day for Falkner?

“We ride. We meet a lot of different people and deal with a lot of different types of people. We deal with homeless people, people drinking at the bus stop.”

Not all those folks are happy when Falkner tells them loitering at bus stops, for instance, is against the rules on Main Street.

He attempts to persuade them, gently at first, that they should move on if they want to avoid a visit from the police.

Some see the light immediately.

Others argue or even swing at him.

But for Falkner, it’s important to keep Main Street safe.

“My grandmother catches buses, too,” he says. “In the Main Street neighborhood, older folks say thank you to us a lot. They say ‘it’s been better since you guys got here.”

The Red Shirt Crew has been working on Main Street for six years. It’s made a difference, and Falkner says it has changed him, too.

“Dealing with the public can be a tad bit difficult,” he says. “Some people don’t like rules. I have learned you have to humble yourself in dealing with people in more escalated conversations.”

But Falkner also finds the job rewarding. He’s proud to have given homeless folks information about shelters and other services, and learned later that they took advantage of the help.

And he finds the CID to be a pretty good employer.

“They take care of us pretty good,” he says. “We’re kind of like a family.”

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