By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4)– A month after a shooting killed one person and injured four others in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood, businesses are leaning on the Denver Police Department for continued patrols on the streets. During a recent community meeting, business and condominium owners alike were looking at hiring a private security firm.
Andrew Armand has owned Flaunt Salon at 22nd and Larimer. He says the problems with drug use have increased exponentially in the last month and a half.
“They cleared the block on Lawrence and Park Ave and once that happened, it pushed all the activity to our blocks where we’re working,” said Armand.
Armand recorded a video, just outside the saloon, of a large gathering of people who appeared to be doing drugs. A typical sight until recently.
“During business hours, I mean during the day, they were right across the street at the staircase, selling… and it’s just never been this bad,” Armand said.
At one point, he was calling Denver police twice a day. He says things have slowly started to improve.
“They’ve been great,” Armand continued, “they said ‘Keep calling and we’ll do our job,’ and they have.”
Denver police have been patrolling the area frequently. Police foot patrols have also increased slightly since the shootings but officials say it is part of a larger effort.
“Our goal is to use a precision policing model, which focuses on the specific issues of neighborhoods; so we don’t patrol the Ballpark neighborhood as we would Cherry Creek Mall, as we would Barnum Park or Park Hill,” said Denver Police Commander Aaron Sanchez.
The Ballpark neighborhood is one area where Sanchez has a lot of focus.
“We have a strong emphasis on outreach. The goal is, we don’t want to put anybody in jail who doesn’t need to go to jail,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez says it’s not just a response to the shootings but ideas brought to DPD with the hiring of its new police Chief Paul Pazen. Through Pazen, the City Wide Impact Team was created.
CBS4 tagged along with the team Wednesday as they made rounds on foot. There were five Denver Police officers as well as a Mental Health Clinician offering resources to homeless in the Ballpark neighborhood.
“We are trying to reach those that need and those we can provide services to- and also those that are breaking the law and need to go to jail,” said Sanchez.
Officers handed out cards with information on a variety of resources. It seemed that most, at least for the time being, didn’t want any help.
One young man, holding his stomach with a cigarette hanging from his mouth, looked like he was in need of some assistance.
“Do you want me to have an ambulance come check you out see if they can give you some saline or something?” asked Officer Kyle Saunier.
The man shook his head. The efforts of the City Wide Impact Team also extended to businesses who have experienced the issues first-hand.
Flaunt Salon is one of several in the area they visit. On Wednesday, they stopped in to say hello to Armand and ask him about any new issues.
Armand pointed to the vacant building across the street.
“That’s been a big problem,” Armand told the officers.
He says he looking forward to a new tenant.
Sanchez has weekly meetings with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s office about activity in the area. He says one of the big plans is to work more frequently with other entities, like Denver Public Works and the city attorneys, to bring more ideas to the round table.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.