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City announces plans to clean up downtown Denver

City leaders discuss rising crime rate and impact on businesses in Denver
City leaders discuss rising crime rate and impact on businesses in Denver 02:38

Mayor Michael Hancock and other Denver city leaders announced new efforts to address health and safety concerns while identifying long-term solutions for issues downtown. The city is mobilizing a Downtown Action Team that will focus on areas of heightened concern. 

Denver Police Department will hire 180 additional officers throughout 2023 to ensure teams are adequately staffed. The city says there will also be increased coordination for local, state and federal policies that address crime and provide resources for mental health and drug misuse. 


Declining safety has more than current leaseholders downtown questioning to renew. 

Hancock says the state of downtown is pushing major events, like conventions, away.   

"They come and visit our city for a site visit, and they don't feel safe," Hancock told CBS News Colorado. "Safety should not be a concern here."

The mayor says safety downtown has gotten worse since the pandemic. He wants to activate the city, saying it's safer when there are more eyes to report issues.  

But in the last few years, many have avoided the area because they don't feel safe.   

Chris Fuselier, owner of Blake Street Tavern, has served guests at his LoDo location for 19 years. He says crime is the worst he's ever seen, and it's affected business.  

"It's about time. We've been complaining about problems downtown the last couple of years, ever since COVID started. It's November 2022, and we're really addressing this now? It should have been addressed a long time ago," Fuselier said. 

Business has slowed the last few years. Fuselier says it's due in part to the post-pandemic, hybrid schedule and the unsafe reputation of the area. 

"The property crime, the shootings, the drugs. That's what's hurting us," Fuselier said. "We've asked for more enforcement, and I get the runaround. I feel bad for officers down here. It doesn't seem like they get enough help." 

Fuselier is now on a first-name basis with trespassers who refuse to leave the front of his restaurant.  

"People are breaking into cars in the middle of the day. A few Sundays ago at 10 in the morning, a bartender's car was broken into," Fuselier said. "A lot of restaurants are leaving to go to the suburbs. That's a fact. Denver has to do something to change the perception of downtown."

The United States Attorney's Office is partnering with the City and County of Denver to hire Special Assistant U.S.  Attorneys to help prosecute violent crime cases involving felons in possession of weapons for additional federal penalties. 

Additional prosecutors are being brought on to help keep more offenders off the street.

At the same time, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and the Colorado Department of Law are leading state-level efforts to address the opioid crisis. 

The city is encouraging residents to download the Clean and Safe app to report issues when you see them.  

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