DENVER – The fatal shooting of a man outside a Regional Transportation District (RTD) parking garage earlier this month, happened just two weeks after RTD board members learned of plans to beef up security on the “W” line between the Lakewood-Wadsworth stop and the Auraria West stop.
Those stops include Lakewood-Wadsworth, Lamar, Sheridan, Perry, Knox, Decatur-Federal and Auraria West. The shooting occurred at Sheridan Blvd. and West 9th Avenue.
The decision to put an office on all trains between the two stops came after years of growing crime stats, said RTD District M Director Natalie Menten.
Menten, who said directors were informed of the decision to beef up security on Aug. 10, is waiting to see stats between those stops for the past two years. However, she said RTD did go ahead with the decision based on complaints from customers and others familiar with the route.
“We were getting enough reports of incidents and customer complaints that we were very concerned about this,” Menten said.
Nate Currey, senior manager of public relations for RTD, confirmed the intentions to add that security, but wasn’t sure if it had been fully implemented before the Aug. 23 shooting.
Menten said it did not appear that there would be new positions added, but instead RTD would simply shift existing officers around the system.
The changes will include officers getting off at all stops and patrolling the platforms during loading. This is in addition to security that is already in place at the stops, Menton said.
RTD has three different types of security officers for light rail. Transit Security Officers, which are employed by RTD. They also contract with Allied Universal Security Services as well as contract with police departments in the jurisdiction of all the light rail stops.
Crime stats taken from the Denver Police Department’s website show an increase in violent crimes – by large numbers in some cases – for the neighborhoods among the stops in question.
Aggravated assault has jumped the most between January and July 2016 and the same time-period this year. Although it went down by 70 percentage points (from 10 incidents to 3) at the Auraria station, it has increased anywhere from 30 percentage points at the West Colfax station (43 to 55) to 118 percentage points at Lincoln Park (37 to 81) to 180 percentage points at the Sun Valley station (10 to 28).
Rape and robbery incidents have also increased, with the largest rape increase at 125 percentage points (4 to 9) at the Villa Park station and robbery incidents increasing by 200 percentage points at the Auraria station and 85 percentage points at Sun Valley.
“Over the course of the last three months, the eastern part of the West Line has an increased amount of complaints from patrons, and official incident reports,” Menten said. “I asked our transit security team for a breakdown of the notable incidents from the last two years, that report is being prepared at this time but will likely take a few more days to compile. Once I’ve processed that information, I’ll personally be sharing the findings with the city councilors within my jurisdiction and Jefferson County Commissioners as it’s a community issue and all partners need to be aware of the recent events.”
RTD has a transit watch program that includes phone apps for both iPhone and Android. Anyone can report suspicious behavior or packages 24/7 to the RTD Transit Watch at (303) 299-2911 or by text message to (303) 434-9100 or by email to email@example.com.