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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Police in Augusta are beefing up patrols downtown in an effort to make people feel more safe.

There is a new sense of pride downtown among property and business owners. There are new shops and restaurants opening. But downtown merchants have become increasingly concerned about crime and other behavior in the business district that may be keeping shoppers away.

"It creates an uncomfortable environment for visitors or employees and people tell me they're reluctant to take their lunch and sit by the riverfront anymore", said Steve Pecukonis of the Augusta Downtown Alliance.

Most the of the problems have to with a small number of people on drugs or intoxicated.

"They're appearing inside of restaurants and causing scenes and in stores. There's been some vandalism", said Augusta City Manager Bill Bridgeo.

City Councilors responded by approving an additional $14,000 for the police department to focus more patrols downtown. Those added patrols will continue through the warm weather months.

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