By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver police spend part of their Wednesday afternoons every two weeks cleaning the Ballpark neighborhood with the help of volunteers who work for the city as well as those already living or owning businesses in the area.

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“Breaking those walls and barriers down and saying this is our community,” said Commander Aaron Sanchez of Denver Police District 6. “We should all be working in collaboration.”

(credit: CBS)

The idea came to staff in District 6 of the department during the winter. They were brainstorming how they could make a positive impact in the community during the summer months. Since the spring, they have started on 21st Street and Larimer Street and walked several blocks to complete a full round picking up trash. Along the way, they run into the same residents and business employees. It is a chance for them to hear about what’s happening in their lives and any concerns they have about the neighborhood.

“We wanted to be a part of the neighborhood and help make this place a better area to live, work, and play,” said Paige McNeil. “It feels so rewarding to see the progress over the past several weeks.”

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McNeil works for Attimo Wine, a business opening in that part of the city this fall. Employees joined the “Adopt A Block” program from the start to build a better sense of community with their new home. They’ve noticed a difference in the few months they’ve walked to the streets with the group, the amount of trash has disappeared significantly in that time.

“They see us getting dirty, cleaning up the streets, I would hope that would encourage them to do the same,” Officer Teresa Gillian, a community resource officer for DPD’s District 6.

Gillian gets the chance to check on people she has met on her clean up days, some are homeless, others work for businesses in that section of downtown. She says it has helped her immensely as an officer to keep the city safe. She says the needs of these people and the neighborhood can be overwhelming but offering a small solution, everyone can feel a sense of progress.

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“We have an interest in making Denver a better place overall.”

Volunteers are always welcome and anyone can join by visiting the corner of 21st and Larimer on Wednesdays every two weeks at 1:30 p.m. Their next meetup will be on July 31.

Shawn Chitnis

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