DENVER – Mayor Michael Hancock vowed to improve the deteriorating conditions plaguing Denver Union Station in a statement released Friday.
The mayor’s statement came two days after the president of the union representing more than 2,000 RTD employees expressed outrage and frustration over the conditions at one of the town’s most important commercial areas.
“It’s a hellhole. It is," Lance Longenbohn, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1001, told Denver7 Wednesday. "It’s not safe for the public. It’s not safe for the employees. It’s getting worse."
In response, Mayor Hancock said he directed the city’s Public Safety director and his Chief of Staff to meet with RTD management and the union Friday, adding he also sent senior level city staff down to the area “to assess conditions and report back to me.”
“Illegal drug use, public urination and unsafe loitering must not be allowed to continue,” Hancock said in the statement. “Union Station is an important public transit and commercial space and we will redouble our efforts to ensure it is clean and safe for all those who use and enjoy it.”
Hancock said Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen would immediately increase police patrols at Denver Union Station to address illegal and unsafe behavior within the terminal.
A memo from RTD titled, “"Strategies to Address Unwanted Activities at Denver Union Station," details steps that RTD is taking to address current safety concerns, including drug use, drug dealing, vandalism, littering and violence.
As part of those efforts, RTD will partner with the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration to deploy special teams in the area of Union Station. The teams will be made up of three to seven members, plus a transit police officer who will patrol with them. The teams will be visible during daylight hours through the end of the year.
Agency transit police officers will also be paired up in teams of two or four to work in the area of Union Station seven days a week.
In addition, RTD is also working with a non-profit made up of unarmed volunteers called the Guardian Angels. The volunteers are expected to begin patrols in early December and will focus on Union Station and the surrounding areas, as well as the 16th Street MallRide shuttle and routes along the Colfax corridor.