Denver Union Station Crime Spike Raises Safety Concerns

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001 is concerned about safety in and around Union Station.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001 is concerned about safety in and around Union Station. Courtesy of Denver Union Station
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001, which represents RTD employees, has reached the breaking point over crime in the Union Station area, which reached a disturbing level this summer and shows little sign of dropping.

A December 1 bulletin from the union announced: "We have the legal right to refuse to work in the UNSAFE WORKING CONDITIONS at Denver Union Station." It then added, "THIS IS NOT A GAME OR A PLOY. If we don't take action to secure our safety, we may die waiting for RTD to do it for us."

In an interview with Fox31, Local 1001 president Lance Logenbohn dubbed Union Station a "lawless hellhole." But while RTD says it's working hard to make sure that Union Station, a multi-modal transit hub for the region, is safe for customers and employees alike, there are undeniable challenges.

According to the Denver Police Department, the Union Station area has experienced more crimes per square mile than any other neighborhood in the city during the most recent two-week period for which statistics are available, and the second-most actual offenses. Over that span, at least twelve crimes, or nearly one per day, took place at or steps away from Union Station.

The Denver Crime Map lists offenses in three major categories: violent crime (murder, robbery and aggravated assault), property crime (arson, larceny, burglary, auto theft and theft from a motor vehicle), and other crimes (all other crimes, drug and alcohol, public disorder, white-collar crime, and other crimes against persons). From November 16 through November 30, the Union Station area registered 109 offenses, behind only the 129 in Five Points. But Five Points is much larger geographically than is Union Station, which is why the map uses crime density — the number of crimes per square mile — to compare neighborhoods. At Union Station, the crime density is 248.29 per square mile, the highest in Denver; the crime density in Five Points is 73.38 per square mile.

The other Denver neighborhoods with the most crimes and highest crime density during the last half of November were Capitol Hill (105 offenses, 155.32 crime density); the Central Business District, or CBD (98 offenses, 227.38 crime density); Montbello (100 offenses, 19.75 crime density); and East Colfax (91 offenses, 95.13 crime density).

Of the 109 offenses in the Union Station area over the past two weeks in November, twelve took place either at the station at 1701 Wynkoop Street, or just down the block. Here's that list, in reverse chronological order:

9:00 p.m.
1701 Wynkoop Street
Larceny Theft — other

8:17 a.m.
1660 Wynkoop Street
Theft from Motor Vehicle; Theft of items from a vehicle

12:00 a.m.
1700 block of Wynkoop Street
Auto Theft; Motor vehicle theft

10:45 p.m.
1701 Wynkoop Street
Larceny; Bicycle theft

10:40 a.m.
1701 Wynkoop Street
Public Disorder; Disturbing the peace

3:49 p.m.
16th Street/Wynkoop Street
Aggravated Assault; Assault causing serious bodily injury

8:20 a.m.
1700 block of Wynkoop Street
Drug & Alcohol; Possession of drug paraphernalia

3:21 a.m.
1660 Wynkoop Street.
Public Disorder; Criminal mischief — graffiti

8:06 p.m.
1701 Wynkoop Street
Other Crimes Against Persons; Assault causing minor bodily injury

8:06 p.m.
1701 Wynkoop Street
Public Disorder; Threatening to injure

8:06 p.m.
1701 Wynkoop Street
All Other Crimes; Criminal trespassing

7:30 a.m.
1701 Wynkoop Street

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001 is hardly alone in its concern about the Union Station area. A petition now live at, "Help Turn LoDo Into the Welcoming Heart of Denver AGAIN!," points out that "Union Station has a long and diverse history in Denver, serving as a central welcoming point for tourists, neighbors and residents alike." But "over the past two years, we have observed with growing alarm the slow, unabated degradation of this amazing community, exacerbating fears for what may become of our downtown if we do not take drastic and immediate measures to make it once again a clean, safe and compassionate area."

So far, the petition has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

Here's the statement RTD released on December 2 regarding Union station:
Recognizing the safety and security of RTD’s employees and customers is paramount, the agency is enhancing security measures in response to an increase in unwelcome activities that are impacting Denver’s central core, and in particular the area surrounding Denver Union Station. RTD is supplementing its transit police operations through strategic partnerships with the federal Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams and the Guardian Angels nonprofit organization. Leveraging these partnerships, and through increased transit police patrols during peak periods, the agency will significantly bolster the security presence at Denver Union Station, its bus concourse, and adjacent rail platforms and transit pavilions, as well as on 16th Street MallRide shuttles and other bus routes along the Colfax corridor.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts