DENVER — The City of Denver announced a new effort Thursday to address public health and safety issues downtown.
“We are launching a multi-faceted, collaborative new effort to further improve public health and public safety in our urban core,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
That new collaborative effort, named the Downtown Action Team, will work with the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department and various outreach agencies. Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said he has a number of officers assigned to the effort.
“I’m not going to tell you the number because it’s going to be dependent on the day and situation,” said Thomas. “This really is going to be a very data driven approach.”
Initial plans include hiring 180 additional Denver police officers citywide throughout 2023, growing the RTD Transit Police Division and more. The team will work to enhance lighting downtown and increase resources to address mental health and drug misuse.
“Ultimately, our first line of defense is effectively engaging with that person, de-escalating the situation and trying to determine what they need as far as help from us or from the rest of the group,” said RTD’s Chief of Police and Emergency Management Joel Fitzgerald.
“People don’t feel safe. That’s an issue for us,” said Hancock.
According to Hancock, the Downtown Action Team is already out on the streets. He said they hit the ground running Wednesday for orientation.
The mayor said he could not say how much funding the new effort is receiving, but called it an “opportunity cost.”