DENVER — Disturbing video of an afternoon assault on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver has brought criticism about the safety of the popular destination and what’s being done about it.
The Denver Police Department and leadership with the Downtown Denver Partnership met behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss plans to improve security on the mall after this and other recent attacks there.
Neither agency said much about their meeting Wednesday, saying the information is coming in the next few days.
But the city council member who represents the district where the 16th Street Mall is located said changes will involve a bigger and more visible police presence.
The day after the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers shared the video of a businessman getting assaulted in the afternoon on the mall, other employees who work in the area spoke out.
Dan Hellmann works in the offices above where the assault took place. He said he was surprised more bystanders didn’t step in to help, especially as a group of panhandlers surrounded another man. But he was not surprised by the aggression because he said it has been building for two months.
“Getting heckled, getting constantly asked … bombarded for handouts,” Hellmann said. “On one occasion, we saw a gentleman walking down the street, was asked for money, he said, ‘no’. He was hit with a sign, a protesting sign and he was told it looks like he can afford it and he should give them money.”
Hellmann said it’s so bad that his building hired more security.
“At times we have difficulty getting into the building just because people are camped out in front of the doors and won’t move,” he said.
One man emailed the Problem Solvers to say he has lived and worked in downtown Denver for many years. He is an operations director for a company that employs 12,000 people in eight states.
“It is very disappointing to see not only my employees in Denver but also those of my employees from other states that I need to bring to Denver for meetings who have to traverse the 16th Street Mall and deal with the following:
- 10 to 20 panhandlers from Larimer to Tremont
- Vagrants, street people, and homeless throughout the journey
- Language and threatening gestures
- The constant barrage of people representing Greenpeace and other groups
“As a result, and at the request of my employees, I now hold most of my meetings in other areas and we do not frequent the downtown Denver area if at all possible.”
Another viewer wrote: “I’ve worked near the mall for 15 years and it’s never been this bad.”
Hellmann said the block looked much better Wednesday and there was a constant presence from police. City leaders said to expect more of the same.
“I think it’s very important that constituents in the city understand that and understand that there is a plan and there is a system by which we will do that,” councilman Albus Brooks said.
Brooks echoed the words of Denver police Chief Robert White and Downtown Denver Partnership management who said Tuesday that security improvements are coming.
“I think the security action plan is before us. … They’ve already hired a security manager, and that manager will have a force that will be on each block,” Brooks said.
“I get the frustration, and this is a booming city right now and people want action immediately. But I think what folks really need to hear from us is, this will not continue. We will deal with this.”