Denver Police Tackling Capitol Hill Street Crime with Extra Patrols | Westword

Denver Police, Dream Center Tackling Ogden Crime with "Holistic" Patrols

After receiving congressional funding, Denver police and mental health experts will have extra patrols on Ogden Street through the summer.
The affected stretch of Ogden includes family-owned businesses like the Corner Beet and Glam House.
The affected stretch of Ogden includes family-owned businesses like the Corner Beet and Glam House. Westword
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Residents, business owners and police officials gathered at the Emerson School in Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 28, to discuss possible solutions for the crime and drug situation on Ogden Street between 14th and Colfax avenues.

One of the main solutions: Starting April 8, officers with the Denver Police Department will begin conducting patrols in the area two days a week — eight hours a day — for the next several months. They will be using a "holistic" approach to policing the area, teaming up with the Denver Dream Center to make contact with people who appear to be causing problems or suffering from issues like substance abuse or mental health conditions.

While arrests can occur when law violations are observed by DPD officers or Dream Center staff, the grant fueling these extra patrols is focused on outreach and providing services and support, according to DPD officials.

"The Denver Police Department will use a method supported by the academic literature to co-produce public safety with community groups and faith-based organizations," says a grant application from DPD. "The program would involve pairing [one to two] officers with [one to two] members of a community or faith-based organization to perform foot patrols in locations where the data indicates chronic violent crime."

Between September 2023 and February 2024, more than 110 criminal offenses were reported on this stretch of Ogden, according to the DPD crime map. There were multiple reports of assaults, robberies, auto theft, disorderly conduct, and public drug/alcohol use at all hours.
click to enlarge Info maps from the Denver Police Department's crime database
More than 110 crimes have been reported on Ogden between East 14th and Colfax avenues over the past six months, according to the Denver Police Department's crime database.
Denver Police Department

Westword detailed the crime situation in a February 1 article, with staff and owners of businesses in the area — such as the Corner Beet, Balanced Root Apothecary, Rooted Heart Yoga and Wellness, and Glam House — detailing how they struggle to make patrons and workers feel safe.

Violent crime has seen a 0 percent change since last year on Ogden Street between Colfax and 14th on a year-over-year basis, according to DPD, while property crime is down by 27 percent, with there being ten fewer property crime offenses this year than last year. However, resource technicians for DPD District 6 provided a crime update at the March 28 town hall showing that overall crime is up since 2023.

In total, 21 more crimes have been reported in this area as of late March, with a 142 percent increase in drug offenses. Police conducted 74 arrests in the area, a 31.3 percent increase over the same span in 2023. According to DPD, 80 percent of the arrests so far this year are drug- or alcohol-related.

Since January, 22 firearms have been recovered by police in the area between 14th and Colfax on Ogden, according to District 6 officials. The department hopes that patrols with the Dream Center will lead to decreases in criminal activity as a whole.

"Involving community members in improving the neighborhoods where they live and work will improve community-police relations and reduce crime in the identified neighborhoods," the grant application says. "The goals of this project are to reduce crime and create better partnerships between DPD and residents." 

How Does DPD Pay for the Extra Patrols?

The grant and funding for the DPD patrols, which are scheduled for Mondays and Fridays during the day, are paid out as overtime and considered Congressional Direct Spending by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The total grant award was $122,000, according to the DPD, with $18,320 contracted to the Dream Center, a faith-based nonprofit, and $103,680 set aside for officer overtime for DPD District 6 and DPD District 2. The patrols are going to be conducted near Colfax and Broadway and the 500 block of East Colfax, in addition to the 1400 block of Ogden.

"We're hoping that will provide some relief in this area," District 6 community resource officer Kayla Knabe said during the town hall.

Property and business owners in the area as well as residents lobbied questions and statements at Knabe and others in attendance at the town hall, including District 10 City Councilman Chris Hinds, asking for specifics about the DPD patrols and efforts being made by everyone involved. 
click to enlarge Man speaks during town hall
City Councilman Chris Hinds (far left) and Denver Police Department members speak during a March 28 town hall addressing crime on Ogden Street.
Chris Perez

One business owner, who did not provide her name, thanked cops for their efforts, but noted that although people in the area, including herself, might feel "all happy and fuzzy right now," she's afraid the kumbaya moment won't last long.

"I just want to make sure we're going to keep moving in this direction," she said. "It's like, crime goes away temporarily — but then are they going to come back like cockroaches?"

According to the DPD, the extra patrols are expected to last until mid-August.

"For the grant, specifically, we only have a certain amount of money that's been allotted," Knabe explained to Westword after the town hall. "We have been in talks with Colfax [Business Improvement District] on trying to figure out how to increase security in the area. Down on the 16th Street Mall, the Downtown Partnership, they have a security team, and then they also hire off-duty officers to help supplement that security."

Frank Locantore, executive director of the Colfax Business Improvement District, told Westword last month that meetings were being held between him, the DPD, Hinds and Mayor Mike Johnston's office to discuss potential sources of crime and substance use on the 1400 block of Ogden.

"The mayor's office is working closely with DPD, DOTI, Councilman [Chris] Hinds's office and the Colfax BID to identify potential solutions for the community members and businesses along that stretch of Ogden," mayoral press secretary Jordan Fuja said in a statement last month.

Having uniformed cops in marked DPD vehicles conducting extra patrols on multiple blocks along East Colfax is an idea that city and police officials are both behind, with officers "out on foot making contact with businesses, making contact with folks out in the area," according to Knabe.

Police will be tracking crime data in the patrol areas over the next few months to see what sort of impact they're having, DPD adds.

"Hopefully that will show a reduction in crime," Knabe said. "And if that's the case, we're hoping that maybe we can find other grant money to help supplement that goal, either through the city or through CBID [Colfax BID] or through other organizations."
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