Denver mayor releases public safety plan that focuses on gun crime, drug abuse – Colorado Newsline

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock speaks about his public safety action plan during a Feb. 3, 2022 press conference. (Screenshot from Facebook Live)
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released a multi-pronged action plan Thursday to address crime and public safety in the city, with a focus on increased police presence in violent hot spots and what he called “firm compassion” for people who use illegal drugs.
“We will not play politics with this challenge of crime. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. It is an issue that affects everyone, and we must address it squarely and without regard to politics,” Hancock, a Democrat, said during a press conference.
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He pointed to four specific public safety challenges of concern: illegal guns, cheap opioid drugs like fentanyl, youth violence with increased access to firearms, and the street presence of re-offenders.
Hancock’s released action plan comes amid a conversation about the state’s increased property crime and vehicle theft rates, what some are referring to as a “crime wave” that goes against national trends.
The Denver Police Department will continue to target five violent “hot spots,” and designate three more to focus on this year. Those three new locations are at West 14th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, West Mississippi Avenue and South Lipan Street, and East Dartmouth Avenue and Havana Street. Police Chief Paul Pazen said that shootings and homicide numbers influence which areas are designated hot spots.
“Data showed us in 2020 that five hotspots accounted for 49% of shootings and 26% of the homicides in our city. We were able to have dramatic decreases in four of the five hotspots,” Pazen said.
The current hot spots are at South Federal Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue, Colfax Avenue and Broadway, East Colfax Avenue and North Yosemite Street, East 47th Avenue and North Peoria Street, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and North Holly Street.
The police presence will look different at each location and be informed by local residents and businesses.
Additionally, Hancock is encouraging an increased police presence at Union Station — which is not a designated violent hot spot — in coordination with the Regional Transportation District, the transit union, businesses and residents. He said that law enforcement has made 522 arrests at Union Station and the surrounding area since November.
“We need to make sure that those travelers feel safe, that our folk who use public transportation feel safe and that we are helping individuals who may be battling substance abuse and mental health challenges,” Pazen said.
DPD will also establish an Assessment Intake Diversion Center where clinical personnel can evaluate people arrested for disruptive behavior and connect them with services and case management. That center will be open 24 hours a day and seven days a week and has a budget of approximately $950,000.
“We want to make sure we are taking a public health approach to public safety, ensuring that those who are in our criminal justice system get the help and resources they need to be successful,” interim executive director for the Department of Safety Armando Saldate said.
Hancock said that his office and the city’s public safety agencies are looking at “every tool” they have to combat an increase in drug addictions and violent crime over drugs. He said that sometimes, the criminal justice system is the best avenue for people to receive treatment they need to recover from addiction.
“The reality is that while we are compassionate with those who are sick with drug addiction, we recognize that they’ve got to be held accountable as well. Sometimes, the best way to help them is by closing the portals on them and letting them know we are bringing a firm reaction to the action they bring on the streets,” he said. “The reality is that they must be safe, and the people on our street must be safe.”
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by Sara Wilson, Colorado Newsline
February 4, 2022
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released a multi-pronged action plan Thursday to address crime and public safety in the city, with a focus on increased police presence in violent hot spots and what he called “firm compassion” for people who use illegal drugs.
“We will not play politics with this challenge of crime. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. It is an issue that affects everyone, and we must address it squarely and without regard to politics,” Hancock, a Democrat, said during a press conference.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
He pointed to four specific public safety challenges of concern: illegal guns, cheap opioid drugs like fentanyl, youth violence with increased access to firearms, and the street presence of re-offenders.
Hancock’s released action plan comes amid a conversation about the state’s increased property crime and vehicle theft rates, what some are referring to as a “crime wave” that goes against national trends.
The Denver Police Department will continue to target five violent “hot spots,” and designate three more to focus on this year. Those three new locations are at West 14th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, West Mississippi Avenue and South Lipan Street, and East Dartmouth Avenue and Havana Street. Police Chief Paul Pazen said that shootings and homicide numbers influence which areas are designated hot spots.
“Data showed us in 2020 that five hotspots accounted for 49% of shootings and 26% of the homicides in our city. We were able to have dramatic decreases in four of the five hotspots,” Pazen said.
The current hot spots are at South Federal Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue, Colfax Avenue and Broadway, East Colfax Avenue and North Yosemite Street, East 47th Avenue and North Peoria Street, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and North Holly Street.
The police presence will look different at each location and be informed by local residents and businesses.
Additionally, Hancock is encouraging an increased police presence at Union Station — which is not a designated violent hot spot — in coordination with the Regional Transportation District, the transit union, businesses and residents. He said that law enforcement has made 522 arrests at Union Station and the surrounding area since November.
“We need to make sure that those travelers feel safe, that our folk who use public transportation feel safe and that we are helping individuals who may be battling substance abuse and mental health challenges,” Pazen said.
DPD will also establish an Assessment Intake Diversion Center where clinical personnel can evaluate people arrested for disruptive behavior and connect them with services and case management. That center will be open 24 hours a day and seven days a week and has a budget of approximately $950,000.
“We want to make sure we are taking a public health approach to public safety, ensuring that those who are in our criminal justice system get the help and resources they need to be successful,” interim executive director for the Department of Safety Armando Saldate said.
Hancock said that his office and the city’s public safety agencies are looking at “every tool” they have to combat an increase in drug addictions and violent crime over drugs. He said that sometimes, the criminal justice system is the best avenue for people to receive treatment they need to recover from addiction.
“The reality is that while we are compassionate with those who are sick with drug addiction, we recognize that they’ve got to be held accountable as well. Sometimes, the best way to help them is by closing the portals on them and letting them know we are bringing a firm reaction to the action they bring on the streets,” he said. “The reality is that they must be safe, and the people on our street must be safe.”
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Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.
Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado’s congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.
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