DENVER — Community activists are calling on city leaders to empower them with resources following the announcement of Denver's new Transformation and Policy division.
In a press conference held on Monday, Mayor Michael Hancock said the multi-agency division would be a strategy to address violent crime and police reform.
Narcy Jackson, a community organizer, said he hoped the strategy would include support for grassroots coalitions and nonprofits.
"Empower us to do the work that you say you want done to minimize and reduce violence or prevent violence from happening in the first place," said Jackson, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit, Athletics and Beyond.
Founded in 2005, the nonprofit is known for its work with youth in historically under-resourced areas, such as the Montbelllo neighborhood. The neighborhood is also home to one of five addresses identified on Monday by Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen as a hotspot for crime.
Pazen said to address the crime increase, the new division will include more foot patrols by officers in an effort to build stronger community relationships.
"It's critical that we point out that these are proven strategies while fully developing the support of our residents; in order to have residents and business owners take a more collaborative approach, a more supportive approach to their own safety," Pazen said.
Jackson said he believes empowering those that work directly with community members is equally important.
"The community can make the difference in what we need. The community can step up and say, 'Hey, we're going to make sure that this program, or these programs, or that this center that's been put up, it survives.'"
Jackson said he and other nonprofits have struggled with funding for years. He said that's why it took over a decade to make their new facility a reality.
"The loopholes and the disqualifications that exist, it really discourages grassroots organizations from applying in the first place," Jackson said.
Graduates of A&B said they saw the challenges firsthand.
"If we were able to fund more nonprofit organizations and resource,s for example, Narcy's organization and many others, we would be able to put ourselves in a better position to see less crime, less acts of violence and more self love in our communities," said Elijah Beauford, a graduate of Manual High School and former A&B mentee.
In a series of emails, the mayor's office told Denver7 funding decisions for the Transformation and Policy division haven't yet been made but called community support "foundational" for improvements.