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Debauchery in downtown Denver tests police skill, strategy

Posted at 2:00 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 16:00:53-05

DENVER — Late-night shenanigans in downtown Denver, including occasional spats of violence, have caused Denver police to proactively increase patrols.

As dizzying and deafening as some of the late-night crowds and venues can be, the trouble that befalls city streets in the wee hours of the morning — especially on weekends — can seem overwhelming.

"Excuse me, I need a blessing!" a man yelled at Contact7, which was documenting the late-night bar crowds in an undercover capacity to understand the increasing challenges facing business owners, residents and police.

"Carry his arms!" another man said while he and two others physically carried a friend who was too intoxicated to stand up or walk.

A few blocks away, police located a man using the city's HALO camera network who was accused of starting fights with people.

In November, a shooting near 21st and Lawrence that killed one person and injured four others drew national headlines.

"There have been some incidents that have occurred down there that understandably have changed people's perspective about safety in that area, so we've responded to that," Denver police Division Chief Ron Thomas said.

Anymore, police position themselves in vehicles or on foot near Coors Field in advance of bars closing on busy nights. Thomas said DPD's newly-minted 'citywide impact team' will sometimes augment patrols already on duty downtown.

The team spent time meeting with business owners one-on-one over the last few months.

"We've beefed up that number and we've also asked them to be a little more proactive," he said.

Thomas said the department would rather build relationships with business owners and patrons than be an overwhelming presence.

"We certainly don't want it to appear as though it's a police state or something like that, so we sort of want them crowd-friendly and kind of intermingling and just kinda being a presence and certainly being an overwatch for anything that may happen," he said.

The Contact7 Investigates Team