DENVER (KDVR) — Between the NCAA tournament games and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, it is expected to be a busy weekend in downtown Denver.

With an influx of visitors, the Denver Police Department will have additional officers visible in crowded areas.

“They’re out there for traffic, to keep traffic flowing safely but to have a visible presence for people who need help or anything that happens,” Denver Police public information officer Jay Casillas said.

One area of focus will be on keeping pedestrians safe from vehicles in high-traffic areas, like outside Ball Arena and in the Lower Downtown neighborhood.

“Be aware of your surroundings whether you’re on a bike, on foot or driving in a car that can help avoid getting into any kind of situation like a crash,” Casillas said. 

1260 hit-and-runs in Denver this year

According to statistics provided by the department, there have been 1260 hit-and-run crashes in Denver since Jan. 1. Nine people have been seriously injured and one person has been killed as a result of these types of crashes.

“We do have enhanced DUI enforcement this week, so it’s important for people if they’re going to consume any alcohol, marijuana, marijuana products to do so in a responsible manner,” Casillas said. “If you’re going to do that and go to any of the games, go to an event, utilize ride share to get you to where you’re going or a designated driver to help you out.”

This is the first time Denver has hosted NCAA tournament games since 2016. However, the city has hosted numerous national events in the years since. 

“For example, at the Avalanche parade, we had hundreds of thousands of people downtown and not one incident. And what we see is the activity on the street level, coming in and out of restaurants and bars, really helps to drive the feeling of downtown as a whole,” Kate Barton with Downtown Denver Partnership said. 

Big events in Denver bring ‘such a great energy’

According to Barton, large events in downtown Denver promote a more safe experience for visitors. 

“We know the activation, having people out on the streets enjoying our downtown makes it feel safer for everyone. What we’ve seen around these big events like the Avalanche going to the Stanley Cup or ultimately winning the cup or any of these other activities is there is such a great energy to the center city, and it really helps to make sure that it not only is safe but feels safe,” she said. 

“We’re no stranger to these bigger events. We’ve had big events around here, the All-Star Game for baseball. We had a bunch, and it helps us as officers and the police department to understand and be a little more vigilant too during these times,” Casillas said.