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Private security force could be hired make 16th Street Mall more safe

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DENVER -- Business owners on the 16th Street Mall hope a plan to increase security will bring back customers.

They say the recent string of crimes in the popular shopping area has left them losing money.

You could see a private security force working to help improve security if the Downtown Denver Partnership moves forward with a recommendation from a consulting firm Wednesday.

The organization says the mall is safe. But leaders want to ease concerns of shoppers.

While most people walking the mall's mile-long stretch Wednesday afternoon said they feel safe, the city is looking at ways to ease any shopper concerns and increase consumer confidence.

Michael Maldonado said he walks along the 16th Street Mall for work every weekday. But he said he typically tries to avoid the area after 2 a.m., when it's dark, the bars are closed and the streets are bare.

"Just by my building right over there, someone got stabbed the other night around 3:30 in the morning," he said. "And that’s right outside my building."

A look at Denver Police crime statistics for 2015 show a number of incidents near the mile-long corridor - mostly thefts and some violent crimes.

Tami Door, the CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership stresses that downtown is safe.

"At the same time, there are questions about consumer confidence in the space," Door said. "There are perceptions about security and safety."

The partnership teamed up with consulting firm KPMG to make recommendations for the plan. The firm recommended hiring a private security force, among other options.

"We will very seriously consider it," Door said.

The plan is still being finalized and, at this point, it is only a recommendation. So it's unclear who they would potentially hire, if they would be uniformed security officers, or who would pay for it. Door points out that many buildings on 16th Street already have their own private security.

"So we could also be looking at how do we better utilize and create a network of the private security officers that already exist? Door said.

Creating a private security force is just one of a number of options, including the potential of adding more lighting to the surrounding buildings.

The Downtown Denver Partnership will work to finalize the plan within the next two months.

 

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