Safety and Security Town Hall | Nov. 16
On Monday, November 16, downtown employees, property owners, and residents gathered for the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Safety & Security Town Hall. This meeting – which included updates and Q&A sessions with Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, and Denver’s Director of Public Safety Murphy Robinson – provided a space for information sharing and thoughtful discussion between property owners, residents, business owners, and all those who live, work, and play downtown, led by local leaders in safety and security.
Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership began the meeting by sharing the most recent security initiatives of the Partnership.
- The Partnership is creating a Security Action Plan for 2021 and will be reporting out on this in coming months.
- If you would like to sign up to receive security & other alerts from the Downtown Denver Partnership and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID), please email Steve Shireman: firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Register for the next weekly Safety & Security Briefing on Dec. 2.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock began by highlighting that changes in safety and security that have largely been affected by unprecedented circumstances with the pandemic, social protests sparked by injustices, and the economic lapse that has resulted.
Mayor Hancock announced that any upcoming and potential future restrictions will be in place to protect the health and welfare of all Denver residents while also giving the economy a chance to bounce back.
Some of the City of Denver’s protocol updates in response to these circumstances include:
- The reinstitution of the ‘Walk the Beat’ – downtown foot patrols. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen and Commander Sanchez of District 6 have increased visibility of patrols of all kinds.
- Additionally, the City of Denver has secured funding for the Downtown Denver Partnership Security Action Plan of 2021, and has been successful in efforts of not reducing police visibility or attention to the 16th St Mall.
- The City is encouraging businesses to remove plywood from windows and doors, and will be putting up displays, decorations, and lights to celebrate the holiday season.
- There are an unprecedented number of unsheltered folks, and people experiencing homelessness in downtown Denver. Denver voters passed Initiative 2B, which will implement a .25% sales tax increase that will fund efforts to support people experiencing homelessness.
- In the meantime, the City is doing everything possible to limit encampments on the streets, as cities nationwide are facing similar challenges.
Mayor Hancock introduced his Executive Director of Safety, Murphy Robinson who talked in greater detail about the ‘Walk the Beat’ program. Everyday there are officers on the 16th St Mall walking, as well as focus patrols, and extra patrols by precinct cars.
Robinson announced that there is also an early intervention team that consists of 30 Police Officers, Firefighters, Denver Human Service Workers, and Social Workers addressing encampments before they expand. This new team is available 7 days a week to focus on smaller encampments, and has been in place over 2 weeks with 1000+ contacts.
Robinson emphasized that as citizens and business owners, we are the first level of our public safety. If you see something say something, and Robinson encouraged downtown residents to use common sense in preventing crimes of opportunity.
Before introducing Chief Paul Pazen, Robinson asked that Denverites push our representatives to direct resources directly to cities to ensure that those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues are given the help they need, and encouraged downtown business owners to join focus groups on policy changes.
Chief Paul Pazen of the Denver Police Department (DPD) began by addressing the updated and implemented programs helping people struggling with substance abuse and experiencing homelessness.
- Many people experiencing homelessness are becoming service-resistant. While these public safety challenges are great, the DPD is working closely with other groups to enable officers to be able to focus on violent crime, property crime, and road safety.
- The criminal justice system has been impacted by the pandemic and is limited on many levels. As a community, it is up to us to be proactive in finding ways to keep our community healthy and safe.
- The Unauthorized Camping Ordinance is still in effect and ordinance is being enforced. This is a complex system that involves human services, outreach coordinators, mental health clinicians, and intervention teams that are collectively approaching the issue.
- In light of the the growing popularity of the slogan of ‘defund the police’, it’s been made clear that people want better policing, not necessarily less policing. Mayor Hancock is in support of better policing, de-escalation training, and equipping officers to work through unprecedented times.
- The DPD is continuing to watch and learn from other cities, and is one of 30 cities that has been selected for an evidence-based training with Georgetown University on active bystanders for law enforcement, the duty to intervene, reductions in use of force, and improved de-escalation of situations.
- Another part of this includes virtual reality empathy training, which is largely important when in contact with people that are on the Autistic spectrum as well as those who experience other mental health issues.
- Across the nation other cities have seen spikes in violent crimes, homicides and shootings, property crimes, and auto theft. DPD is using this trend and data from previous recessions to anticipate similar issues and take proactive approaches to handling them.
DPD’s priorities during the pandemic are to:
- Prevent crimes, and hold those responsible accountable
- Continue to explore helpful technologies similar to the alert system from the Downtown Denver BID and the Downtown Denver Partnership
- Keep those in the criminal justice system safe and healthy during the pandemic
- Give officers situational discretion, and the opportunity to balance the needs of the public and the individual
- Work with BIDs on similar approaches and connect with employees and business owners to address problems as they arise
Call 311 to report non-emergency safety and security issues to the City of Denver.