DENVER (KDVR) — Downtown Denver will be the focus of an intense security makeover. Security teams and health professionals are teaming up as part of an effort to lower crime rates and clean up the area.
You can expect to see more police officers downtown and a number of other teams trying to help get people off the street.
City leaders and police chiefs said people experiencing homelessness and drug addiction continue to be at the heart of the problem in downtown Denver. A newly formed Downtown Action Team is being organized to clean up large swaths of the city.
RTD’S police chief is playing a major role.
“You should feel safe when you are downtown, you should feel safe in Union Station. You should feel safe in the areas that we cover,” RTD Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said.
The team will focus on areas around the Colorado Convention Center first. It will then spread out to other parts of downtown like 16th Street and beyond.
FOX31 was told there will be extra police patrols, security officers, substance abuse counselors and graffiti cleanup.
The mounting issues are being blamed for the city losing major profitable conventions.
“The reality is we are losing business in downtown Denver. The reality is that we are losing conventions as we try to market our city. People coming here have chosen not to come to Denver. That’s not something we can lose. We are not going to throw our hands up and let that be the last word,” Mayor Michael Hancock said.
Over at Yazoo BBQ on Broadway, the owner welcomes the help to clean up downtown. The restaurant is said to be some of the best BBQ in town. But outside, people wander the streets and cause problems around the building.
“The more effort the better, but they don’t care. You can have a trash can right there and they will throw stuff on the ground,” said Yazoo’s owner, Don Hines.
One of the action team’s efforts will be to help people with mental issues get help.
Over at Kilwins Chocolates and Ice Cream on the 16th Street Mall, there was the rich smell of hot caramel in the air. Many people stop for the sweet stuff, and the co-owner is hoping even more customers come with a new action team in place.
“I think that’s great. It’s going to help make sure 16th Street Mall is where families and kids can enjoy the best of Denver,” Kilwins co-owner Andreu Sureda-Guixa said.
It is not clear when the first action teams will hit the ground in this effort. Many businesses told FOX31 they are hoping it comes sooner than later.