Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hiring of police for the 16th Street Mall is reflective of a thoroughly bankrupt city leader­ship

from the August edition of the Naysayer newsletter from historian and social critic Phil Goodstein

No sooner had the 16th Street Mall opened in 1982 than department stores began to close along it. Though no major retail emporium anchors the road, it has been extremely successful as a people place. Even so, business interests, who have claimed the road as their own, have complained about crime along the plaza.

Rather than lobbying the city to make sure that the 16th Street Mall is adequately patrolled with the rest of the city, the Downtown Denver Partnership and cohorts have announced they will pay for more police officers along the road. In other words, the police are not public employees who serve to protect the population wherever they are needed, but are essentially private employees of downtown commer­cial and real estate interests. As such, it is unclear whether they are enforcing city ordinances or serving as the musclemen of the one percent.
For years, the police department has suffered the consequences of its rent-a-cop policies. This specifically refers to the way-it has allowed uniformed officers to serve as private security personnel for bars and other money-making venues. It has never been clear if they are guardians of law and order or mercenaries in the pay of the people writing their paychecks. When officers have brutalized victims in such capacities, the city has had the responsibility. The hiring of police for the 16th Street Mall is reflective of a thoroughly bankrupt city leader­ship. For so embracing it, Mayor Michael Hancock shows himself worthy of being the Naysayer of the Month. 


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