16th Street Mall Violence May Be Combated by Private Security Force

In recent months, there have been a slew of violent incidents on the 16th Street Mall, a number of which were ignored or underplayed by many mainstream media outlets.

Nonetheless, the assorted crimes got the attention of Westword readers, as well as the Downtown Denver Partnership, which held a meeting on these issues and others at the Denver Marriott City Center yesterday in the wake of a safety survey filled out by thousands of respondents.

Among the revelations: the DDP is in the midst of finalizing a Downtown Security Action Plan that may reportedly include the creation of a private security force and an increase in the number of patrols by off-duty Denver police officers.

The plan's backdrop include several crimes we've told you about in recent months.

The issue of safety on the 16th Street Mall burst into the public consciousness after an attack on a couple dining at the Rock Bottom Brewery at about 8:30 p.m. on August 13.

As we've noted, a comment about littering made by the male half of the pair resulted in an argument with a group of teens that soon got physical.

As many as twenty young people may have taken part in the assault, which resulted in this injury for the male victim:

Thus far, no one has been charged in this incident to our knowledge — and the same appears to be true of a stabbing on the 1500 block of California Street that took place at around 12:30 a.m. on August 30.

Then came a matter involving someone who was taken into custody: Jerry Odell.

Denver police say his spree got started at around 7:35 a.m. Monday, August 31, near 1500 Stout Street. Odell allegedly told a woman, "You're so pretty," then demanded that she "give him a little something" before grabbing her in the area of her breasts and fleeing.

A short distance away, Odell is accused of seizing the arm of another woman. After she broke free, she sought help from RTD security.

Victim number three was accosted in the lobby of the Rio Grande Lofts, at 1531 Stout. She told investigators that Odell swept her into a bear hug and started licking her face.

Her initial attempts to get away from him were unsuccessful. In addition, she went on, he threw her phone to the floor and groped her breasts and below her waist. He only stopped his attack after her screaming alerted someone else in the building to her peril, she added.

Still, the DPD says Odell wasn't finished.

The fourth victim was abused on the 1500 block of Champa Street; Odell allegedly held her to him, reached under her skirt and began "ramming her with his pelvis."

Before any more attacks could take place, cops finally located and cuffed Odell.

After the Odell bust, the Denver Police Department noted that it was assigning extra officers to the area.

But that didn't stop what happened on September 19 in an incident the DPD didn't share with the public until the first week of October.

That evening, a woman was sexually assaulted on the 500 block of 16th Street, behind the Barnes & Noble outlet.

The DPD described the suspect as a thin, short-haired twenty-something white or Hispanic male standing about five-feet, nine-inches tall and answering to the name "Frank."

Here's a surveillance photo of the suspect:

Thus far, we haven't heard about an arrest in this case, either.

Even if many news organizations have paid comparatively little attention to such incidents, the negative publicity generated by those that have appears to have motivated the new DDP initiative, which the organization's Facebook events page promises will be implemented "in the coming months."

At this point, we know relatively few specifics about the Downtown Security Action Plan. But clearly action is needed.

Here's a brief 7News report about yesterday's meeting.