Denver police evaluating progress and challenges on the 16th Street Mall

Next year's budget would add 16 officers downtown

DENVER -- The 16th Street Mall is still trying to shake a perception that surfaced this summer when video after video emerged showing fights and assaults.

The Denver Police Department is currently evaluating the progress and challenges that remain. It has been three months after Mayor Michael Hancock stood with other city leaders and said, "Enough is enough."

On Thursday, the Downtown Denver Partnership held a forum focusing on the continued improvement of the mall. Perception is a concern because the mall brought in $16 million dollars in sales tax revenue last year.

Police are looking at their plans for staffing as they head into the typically-slower winter months. Next year's proposed budget would add 16 officers downtown as part of an effort to establish a more police permanent presence.

"Any time you get that community policing going and the crime prevention aspect of stuff, is you get people that can take ownership for the area," said Commander Ron Saunier, Denver Police Department District 6.

As cleanup efforts continue along the 16th Street Mall, police admit some of the homeless are going elsewhere.

"The problem hasn't gone away, so we do see some displacement. Some of it's moved outside the city we've heard from our neighboring cities; some has moved within the districts," said Commander Saunier.

Restaurant owner Adam Hill said one of the biggest improvements came when the city restricted access to alleys. The move was designed to keep people out who were using drugs or other illegal activities.

"It's definitely going in the right direction," said Adam Hill, owner of the Appaloosa Grill.

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