Downtown Denver has it all, including fun, food, shopping, entertainment, premier people-watching, and a sense of urban unease, says the Denver Post. The throngs that give downtown its vitality also can induce intimidation, particularly from individuals who assemble and hang out along storefronts. Downtown business interests are addressing the issue with increased police patrols and initiatives to provide a better experience on the mall. Assemblages of street people don’t necessarily equate to criminal activity, although it is common for passers-by to see openly conducted drug transactions and illegal public marijuana smoking.
Downtown crime rates have risen sharply this year. That’s one of the reasons that merchants and business advocacy groups are paying the tab to put more police on the streets. They are covering the summer-long program with $175,000 of private funding from the Downtown Denver Partnership, the downtown business improvement district and Visit Denver. The off-duty police initiative is in addition to the city’s recent $1.8 million appropriation for more police officers downtown. The safety initiatives are taking place in the shadow of a 78 percent increase this year in reported crimes in the central business district. Largely unreported are numerous daily incidents of illegally smoking marijuana. While retail sales and possession of cannabis became legal Jan. 1, smoking it in public isn’t.