DENVER (KDVR) — It took very little time for Union Station to emerge in late 2021 as one of the city’s most concentrated pockets of drugs and violent crime.
The union representing 2,000 workers for RTD and First Transit, RTD’s largest fixed-route contractor, alerted the community of the conditions in a Wednesday press release, calling Union Station a “lawless hellhole.”
Denver Police Department crime data does show that Union Station has one of the city’s highest concentrations of drug and alcohol crimes. Only the 16th Street Mall intersection of 16th Street and Champa St. and Civic Center Park have more drug and alcohol offenses in the same space.
Since June 1, DPD has recorded 53 drug and alcohol offenses in the Union Station main building and the areas around its terminals, the majority of which are drug offenses.
The intersection of 16th Street and Champa Street has recorded 53 crimes as well. Unlike Union Station, the majority of these are alcohol-related.
The Civic Center Park intersection of Colfax Avenue and North Broadway has the city’s highest concentration of drug and alcohol offenses with 58 since June 1.
Union Station didn’t always have such high rates of crime. They shot up suddenly.
Union Station’s violent crime and drug and alcohol offenses both quadrupled in 2020 and 2021.
Between 2017 and 2019, there were an average 10 aggravated assaults and robberies per year at Union Station. That shot up to 43 in 2020. This year, there have been 40 violent crimes so far.
Drug and alcohol offenses spiked even harder in an even shorter amount of time.
Drug and alcohol use did not increase in 2020 at Union Station the way violent crime did. From 2017-2020, there were between 10 and 30 drug and alcohol offenses per year. So far in 2021, there have been 89.