DENVER (CBS4) – There should be more police officers on the streets of the Mile High City soon after the Denver City Council approved nearly $2 million to hire more cops to patrol the Ballpark and Lower Downtown neighborhoods.
In addition, there should be more officers on the 16th Street Mall, where there’s been a recent spike in drug use and assaults.
Approximately $1.8 million will first be used to pay existing officers overtime until 10 new officers can be hired and trained.
Denver Police Chief Robert White says the focus is not necessarily about arresting more people but keeping crime out of those areas, where more and more people are now living and more real estate is becoming available.
The increased police presence will be felt between the hours of 8 a.m. and 12 a.m., White told the City Council during their meeting on Monday night.
“Obviously we’ll make arrests when it’s appropriate, but the primary focus is to have a police presence and thinking that presence will prevent some of the activity that we ha’ve seen,” White said.
The move didn’t come without concerns. Representatives from the group Colorado Progressive Coalition told CBS4 they are worried overzealous officers will target the homeless population. They held a rally on Monday expressing their opposition to the move, saying the money could be spent in a more appropriate fashion.
“$1.8 million for all these cops being down in LoDo? No! They need it for homes for us and for everybody else,” one woman from the group said using a megaphone at the rally.
Tania Valenzuela with the group said she’s worried the money will fuel a police department that’s already facing scrutiny.
“We don’t want $1.8 million going to police officers when the department is a complete mess right now,” Valenzuela said.
City Councilwoman Robin Kneich voted for the bill but said in Monday’s meeting the added officers should practice discretion.
“We (need to make sure) we are not citing for every possible violation in an attempt to deter people from being there,” she said.