A central Denver neighborhood is considering hiring a private security firm amid what residents say is an increase in property crime.
The Seventh Avenue Neighborhood Association, which represents a narrow band of blocks south of Cheesman and Congress parks, sent a survey to members Wednesday asking if the organization should hire a firm to monitor the area during overnight hours.
SANA said the service would provide unarmed patrol of the neighborhood in addition to monitored camera surveillance and monitored dispatch service, which would mean residents could call to report suspicious behavior.
The survey asked members how much their household would be willing to pay annually for the service, with options from $100 to $700. And it asked members whether the patrol should work a regular schedule from 8, 9 or 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., or just work “random overnight hours.”
Contacted by BusinessDen, SANA said in a statement that the neighborhood has seen a rise in crime, mostly in the form of property crime. Denver police liaisons, however, have told the group that the department’s position is “that they need to allocate resources where crime is the highest.”
“This is completely reasonable and we recognize that our neighborhood has lower reported crime compared to other parts of the city,” SANA said. “Additionally, our members have expressed reticence to officially report property crimes — car and garage break-ins, for example — for myriad reasons ranging from a feeling that DPD won’t be able to find what was stolen to a concern about diverting police resources from more pressing matters.”
The rise in crime was discussed at an April meeting, and SANA opted to send out a survey because many local residents didn’t attend. As of Friday afternoon, the group said, responses were “pretty evenly split.”
It’s unclear to what extent neighborhood organizations already contract with security firms. The firms and their guards must be licensed by the city, but companies don’t have to tell the city who their clients are or where they’re working, according to Eric Escudero, spokesman for Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses.
A spokesman for the Denver Police Department acknowledged a request for comment from BusinessDen, but hadn’t responded as of press time.
Both the Downtown Business Improvement District and the Cherry Creek Business Improvement District contract with security firms.
The Downtown BID has done so since 2016, according to a news release at the time. Beth Moyski, an executive with the Downtown Denver Partnership, said Allied Universal security officers provide services from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., with three to seven officers working at any given time.
“The security officers do not have enforcement authority,” Moyski said. “They observe and report, inform and educate as to the law, ordinances, and rules, and they connect those struggling on the street with resources. These services are supplemental to the Denver Police services.”
Still, BIDs are somewhat different from a neighborhood organization, in that they are funded by private commercial tax payers, and their districts are generally more heavy on businesses than residences.
SANA, in contrast, represents an area bordered by 6th Avenue to the south and 8th Avenue to the north, and the alley between Downing and Marion streets to the west and Colorado Boulevard to the east. The area is practically exclusively residential, oriented around 7th Avenue Parkway, a picturesque street with a large grassy median that is flanked with large multimillion dollar homes.
Leaders of several neighborhood organizations located close to SANA’s boundaries — the East Cheesman Neighbors Association, the Cherry Creek East Association and the Cherry Creek North Neighborhood Association — told BusinessDen they don’t contract with private security and aren’t considering doing so.
Lou Raders, president of the Cherry Creek North Neighborhood Association, said it benefits from Cherry Creek BID’s security contract.
“We do benefit from that and appreciate it,” Raders said. “We have discussed it at the board level but it has not been the subject of overwhelming interest by the board or by neighbors.”
SANA said in its statement that a Country Club neighborhood group does contract with security. Leaders of Country Club Historic Neighborhood didn’t respond to a request for confirmation.