Apr 29, 2021 - News

Denver mayor puts public safety at top of COVID recovery agenda

A photo of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

One of the top three priorities on Denver's post-pandemic recovery agenda is a revamp of public safety, Mayor Michael Hancock said Wednesday.

What’s new: Officials from the mayor’s office and Denver police department tell Axios that investments in technology, law enforcement officers and alternative policing models are all being considered.

Why it matters: Police across the country continue to face sharp public criticism over excessive force against people of color, and local policymakers are working to divest from police spending.

  • Crime in Denver has been rising throughout the pandemic, and city officials are still struggling to control it.
  • City leaders now face a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our community" and make meaningful change, Denver’s chief financial officer Brendan Hanlon told reporters.

Driving the news: Hancock said he will ask voters in November to approve a $400 million bond proposal primarily focused on infrastructure projects that would create 40,000 jobs for Denver residents by the end of 2022.

  • The mayor said it's needed to leverage the federal stimulus dollars the city will receive.
  • In addition to public safety, the two other recovery priorities are rebuilding the economy and reducing homelessness.

Details: Of particular interest to Denver police chief Paul Pazen are investments in "innovative" and a "whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach" to policing.

  • What will be announced in coming weeks will include expansions on the concepts of community policing, public safety spokeswoman Kelli Christensen confirmed.
  • "I’m extremely excited about it," Pazen tells Axios, though he said he couldn’t disclose much more.

What’s next: Hancock will request that the Denver City Council vote to refer the bond measure to the November ballot, and will hold community conversations to give residents opportunities to voice how they want the borrowed money to be spent.


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