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Aurora police to focus on improving safety at Colfax and Havana

Violent crime, drug use, prostitution, trespassing and theft are some of the issues Aurora PD hopes to reduce.
colfax and havana aurora
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jul 02, 2024

AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Police Department said it has a plan to improve safety near Colfax Avenue and Havana Street.

Community members, business owners and city leaders often describe the area as “out of control” due to violent crime, prostitution, trespassing and open-air drug use.

“Years ago, you know, it didn't used to be like that,” said Marty, an Aurora resident who declined to provide his last name.

He walks through the area about twice each month. He said the problem should be obvious to everyone.

“If people are hanging around, you know, good things aren't gonna happen if they're just sitting around. It’s that kind of an area,” Marty said. “And that's what you get. That's the results you get.”

According to Aurora crime statistics, within the past month, at least nine aggravated assaults have been reported in the area, along with six car thefts and three robberies

On a visit to the area on Tuesday afternoon, a Denver7 crew found discarded drug syringes near a bus stop and spotted a naked man running across the parking lot where a Walmart Neighborhood Market had operated.

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A discarded syringe left outside a business near a bus stop.

The store closed a few weeks ago. City officials blamed retail theft for the closure. Walmart, however, did not cite retail theft as a reason for the store’s closure. In a statement to Denver7, the store said the location had not performed as well as it had hoped.

Several people Denver7 spoke with on Tuesday said they don’t feel safe in the area. One woman said she recently moved to Aurora and was afraid every time she had to come to the bus stop at Colfax and Havana. Another man who works in the area said drug use is rampant.

Aurora PD said it will engage in “proactive policing” over the coming weeks. This will involve increasing police visibility in the area and using data and intelligence to zero in on people they say are responsible for much of the crime, according to the department.

Aurora PD Patrol Division Chief Kevin Barnes, who is leading the effort, said community members and businesses also play a crucial part.

“If they have a seat at the table, if they have a voice and they feel that they have a voice… they'll be more apt to buy into what's taking place,” Barnes said.

A man without clothes runs through a parking lot at Colfax and Havana.

Barnes outlined the plan for the Aurora City Council during a recent meeting. City council members expressed support but also shared concerns about police potentially taking their eyes off other areas.

“While I like this, I agree that this area has been a problem for a very long time,” said Aurora City Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky. “There are other parts of the city where business owners are struggling, being robbed, being burglarized, vandalized, graffiti everywhere.”

Barnes said police would be mindful of that and would watch those areas as issues come up.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said trespassers at Colfax and Havana often scatter when a patrol car pulls up but return once it leaves.

“When you're talking about having officers on the ground there, that I think that matters,” he told Barnes.

Marty hopes the plan works but has his doubts.

“They’re gonna have to move 'em off somewhere else,” he said. “That's the bad part.”

Barnes said it would reassess the strategy every 30 days. He said the plan will involve several of APD's divisions, as well as the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office and 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Aurora police to focus on improving safety at Colfax and Havana

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