DENVER – Denver Police announced Monday that they considered the area near West Alameda Avenue and South Federal Boulevard one of five crime hotspots in the city. She plans to prevent and reduce crime through increased patrol and cooperation with neighbors.
The nearby Westwood neighborhood has seen its fair share of crime over the years, according to Norma Brambila, the security coordinator for Westwood Unidos, a nonprofit that helps turn people into leaders.
“It was a very dangerous area with a high rate of crime, drugs, liquor stores and prostitution bars,” she said.
She credits her organization for helping clean up alleyways and removing graffiti, which in turn has helped reduce crime in the neighborhood. But the neighborhood is changing again.
“Much of the crime and graffiti has returned,” Brambila said.
She blames the pandemic for the rise in crime because more children and young people are at home, their parents work and schools are closed. There is a lack of supervision.
“It destroys you because it not only destroys the person or a victim … it also destroys a family and community environment because we all live here,” Brambila said.
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen wants to disrupt crime in the area, including the Westwood neighborhood, hopefully to prevent crime from ever occurring.
RELATED: Mayor Hancock Announces Transformation and Politics Division to Combat Violent Crime and Police Reform
“This would include foot patrol. It would include bicycle patrol in these neighborhoods getting officers out of cars,” he said.
But Brambila fears that a larger police presence will not solve the problem.
“We put band-aids on the wounds, but really we’re not trying to heal the wounds,” she said.
Instead, she wants more government funding for programs and activities to keep the youth busy – and not have problems.
That’s exactly what JoAnna Cintro, the executive director of Re: Vision, is trying to do, a nonprofit that helps families grow food gardens in Westwood. She recently received a government grant to help create jobs for teenagers.
“We’re actually going to be giving ten summer jobs to neighborhood teenagers who will actually help us run our farmer’s market,” she said.
Like Brambila, she believes the neighborhood needs more resources.
“I don’t think policing in underserved neighborhoods ever helps and really acknowledges or addresses the root causes of any of these real problems,” said Cintro.
Brambila isn’t sure if more officers on the streets will help prevent and reduce crime, but she is sure it will make neighbors more nervous.
“Right now there are a lot of people without a license. There are people who leave their children alone for some time to go to work,” she said. “It’s a hit with the family and, like I said, not a hit with the crime.”
Chef Pazen is certain that these crime prevention methods will work.
“It is important that we point out that these are proven strategies to focus on crime while fully developing the support of our residents so that residents and business owners have a more collaborative, supportive approach to their own safety and security can use the community police strategies like high visibility patrol, “he said.