HIGHLAND PARK (CBSLA) — Two uniformed police officers were walking in and out of stores on the North Figueroa Corridor in Highland Park Friday night, introducing themselves to residents and business owners.

The officers started their patrol earlier Friday afternoon and would remain out on the street until 11 p.m. as part of a 30-month program spearheaded by Councilman Gil Cedillo.

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Earlier in the day, Cedillo’s office announced that he had secured a $500,000 grant from the city’s general fund to have the increased police presence every weekend.

But some locals were suspect of the timing and the intent as new development in the area has caused some problems between longtime and newer residents and businesses — with some saying that longtime residents and businesses have been pushed out by what they call gentrification.

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“It’s here to intimidate long-term residents, and make new term residents feel safer,” Steven, a local, said. “They want to bring in new young professionals, people with higher income, and they want the businesses to also reflect these new people coming in as well.”

The Los Angeles Police Department has even said there has not been any increase in crime in the area, which has some saying the program seems like an effort to cater to a richer, whiter demographic, but Cedillo’s office said that simply was not true.

“There’s always been a high middle class residence here in Highland Park regardless of if they’re renters, also a lot of home ownership,” Conrado Terrazascross, communications director for Cedillo, said. “So we’re doing this to support them — whether you’re a renter, homeowner, whatever income level. We are bringing the resources to increase safety for everybody.”

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Cedillo was not there for the announcement, but his office said the foot patrol was his idea as a way to be proactive.