LEWISTON, Maine(NEWS CENTER) -- An operation that started last spring designed to reduce crime in downtown Lewiston has police optimistic starting the new year.

In response to three shootings that took place, Lewiston Police started a program last May with several different federal, state, and local agencies to crack down on violent crime, drug trafficking, and prostitution in downtown residential neighborhoods near the police station.

There have been twelve "Operation Hot Spot" patrols so far, and police say they've made nearly sixty arrests or summons as a result of those patrols. Authorities have also seized fifteen illegal firearms.

Police say it's difficult to determine how effective the program has been because it's still relatively new, but patrols last year did produce some tangible results.

"What I can say is we didn't have any homicides [last] year," Lt. Michael McGonagle with the Lewiston Police Department said. "The general consensus on the street from community members is that it has slowed things down, and there is less visible crime."

Police are focusing on a 1.5 square mile area near the police station including Bartlett, Horton, and Howe streets. Lt. McGonalge says the program will be re-evaluated in the spring, and police will then decide if they need to expand the program.

The U.S. Attorney's Office last week announced the first federally prosecuted case coming out of "Operation Hot Spot." In that case, 33-year-old Anthony Foster from Lewiston was sentenced to three years for a federal firearm charge.

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