DENVER -- It was a summer of fighting, tension and fear on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers were the first to bring the issue to the forefront -- and to the attention of leaders in a position to stop it.
About a month after city officials, police and partners put a comprehensive safety plan in place, a violent brawl was caught on camera Monday night. But this time, the outcome was different.
Denver police officers were just feet away from the group of brawlers outside a Jamba Juice on California Street about 10 p.m.
An officer sprinted to break up the fight within 11 seconds of the start of a viewer's video. A second officer arrived 6 seconds later.
While most people scattered, police said one man continued fighting and squared up to hit an officer, who pepper-sprayed the suspect. Police caught Shonquez Dorsey, 20, about a block away.
“We originally had a fight in that area earlier, so they put extra attention to the area,” Denver Police Cmdr. Ron Saunier said.
The boost in law enforcement was apparent Tuesday with a stroll along the mall, where there were officers on every block.
Their protective presence, which includes private security guards, is a result of a 240-point plan to improve safety. It also includes nearly 200 new lights along the mall, and only trash and emergency workers are now allowed in certain alleys.
“We strategically put the walk-the-beat officers in the locations we did based on crime data and calls for service. We put them in areas we best believe to address the problems,” Saunier said.
And last month, a man was knocked unconscious with a single punch and then kicked as he was motionless on the ground.
But now that the city is more overtly beating the drum of increased security, visitors like the owner of a Mexican food cart said they notice.
A few months ago, someone ran off with his tip jar.
“Lot of police officers walking back and forth. Seems pretty safe. Yeah, it’s good,” Manuel Breckenridge said.
Police say so far, so good. But they know their battle is a daily one. And they are ready.
“I do believe the plan is working. We are making progress. We’ve gone a long ways with patrols down there. We’ve got more to do, to continue to put the efforts and resources we need to,” Saunier said.
In Mayor Michael Hancock’s new budget proposal, he will add 16 extra officers to patrol the mall, with a total of 48 new officers in the department.