Rob Squire and Lisa Pope of the Safety and Quality of Life Committee met with Laura Wachter, Deputy Director, Department of Public Safety, City and County of Denver. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that are mentioned in the 2022 Public Safety Action Plan that Mayor Hancock announced in February. These funds are available for increased surveillance, fencing, cameras, lighting, maintenance, etc., for businesses and multi-unit housing. Approximately $1.5 million in grant money is available through ARPA. UpDoNA wanted to see if residential buildings could apply for grants for security upgrades.
An additional $5 million in ARPA grants is available through the Denver Economic Development & Opportunity Office (DEDO). The DEDO grants will focus specifically on business infrastructure.
Funds will first be made available to the five designated “Hot Spots” in Denver. These Hot Spots are so named because they are considered a persistently violent location (PVL). A pilot program has begun on East Colfax in which approximately $200,000 will be used to install Halo cameras, lighting, code enforcement, etc. Ms. Wachter is expecting a report within the next 2-3 weeks on the success, if any, of the program on East Colfax.
At the current time, the ARPA funds are not available for the Upper Downtown area since it is not a designated “hot spot”, but if the program proves successful, Ms. Wachter expects that the program with be expanded. She is expecting an additional $150 million to be made available this summer, some of which could be made available for similar safety and security upgrades. We encouraged Ms. Wachter to consider using funds for the downtown area as well as the hot spots.
The five “hot spots” that have been identified are determined by the crime reporting statistics that are compiled by the City of Denver from a variety of sources, one of which are the reports that are filed by citizens. This reemphasizes the need for residents to report any and all crimes they see, whether it is violent crimes, open drug use, illegal encampments or anything else that is a violation of the law.
The committee will meet with Ms. Wachter in six weeks to get an update on the East Colfax pilot program.