FARGO — Late-night and early morning noise is a big problem for people who make their home in downtown Fargo, particularly on weekends.

That's according to a condominium owner who spoke during a "Downtown Download" meeting Wednesday, Sept. 8, hosted by the Fargo Police Department and the Downtown Community Partnership at City Hall.

The condo owner said he and other downtown residents appreciate the police department's work, though he added patrol numbers seem to have declined since the start of the pandemic.

At Wednesday's gathering, Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner noted that while he can’t speak for the police department, the agency has recently faced challenges with resources.

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While the police department recently made 13 additional hires, "they're still down officers," Jahner noted.

Beginning this past weekend, the sheriff's office started providing deputies to assist Fargo police covering the downtown area on weekends.

"I think it's a very good way we can curb some issues," Jahner said.

Faith Dixon, a member of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, speaks during a meeting held at Fargo City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 8, during which law enforcement officers and others talked about efforts underway to address issues that affect downtown. David Olson/The Forum.
Faith Dixon, a member of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, speaks during a meeting held at Fargo City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 8, during which law enforcement officers and others talked about efforts underway to address issues that affect downtown. David Olson/The Forum.

Faith Dixon, a local Black Lives Matter organizer, asked Jahner a number of questions during the meeting, including what his office has done when it comes to de-escalation training.

She also asked what the sheriff's office was doing to increase diversity within the agency.

"I would like to see more officers that look like us," said Dixon, who is Black.

Jahner said the sheriff's office is one of the most diverse law enforcement agencies in the area and he invited Dixon to chat with him further about the subject.

Deputies do regular training on de-escalating tense situations, and the agency uses a number of tools to assist in that effort, the sheriff said.

Those include body cameras and a recently adopted device called a BolaWrap, which Jahner said allows deputies to incapacitate individuals without the need to engage with them physically.

Fargo police officer Matt Niemeyer presented statistics showing that the department handled 770 calls for service downtown in August for things ranging from suspicious persons and vehicles to assaults and thefts.

The downtown MATBUS station was the location with the most calls for service in August with 31, followed by Empire Liquors with 22; and the Municipal Courthouse with 21, Niemeyer said.

Rounding out the top five locations for calls for service last month were apartment properties at 920 Sixth Avenue North and 123 Roberts Street, which had 20 and 19 calls for service, respectively.

Arrest made in gunfire case

Although it didn't occur in August, Niemeyer mentioned a "critical incident" on Sunday at 64 Broadway, one block south of First Avenue North.

About 1:15 a.m. Sunday, police officers heard what they believed to be gunshots and started investigating with the aid of other agencies, Niemeyer said.

The shots triggered an hours-long "shelter in place" alert downtown, with police advising the public to avoid the area.

Detectives on Wednesday arrested 24-year-old Alexis Araiza on suspicion of reckless endangerment and terrorizing, according to a news release from Fargo police.

The arrest followed a review of downtown cameras and interviews with witnesses, police said.

Based on what a witness said, police believe Araiza climbed a fire escape ladder and fired a gun into the air, according to Niemeyer.

Property owners should make sure things like fire escapes are secure to prevent something similar from happening in the future, Niemeyer said.