The Six Points of Mayor Johnston's Clean and Safe Downtown Initiative

Police Chief Ron Thomas, Dream Center’s Mike Johnson, Public Safety Director Armando Saldate, Councilman Darrell Watson, Pastor B, Mayor Mike Johnston, Downtown Partnership CEO Kourtny Garrett, Deputy COO Gretchen Hollrah. Councilman Chris Hinds.

Downtown Denver is the economic and cultural center of our city. It is where Denverites come to see a ball game, a concert or a musical, and visit our museums, restaurants, comedy clubs, art galleries and shops. It is the living room of Denver, and we want every resident and guest to feel safe and inspired by the creativity, innovation and genius that is Denver.

On Jan. 8, we launched our effort to guarantee that experience. Our Clean and Safe Downtown plan is built on the belief that a safe and clean Denver is all of our responsibility; the city cannot do it alone, the police cannot do it alone, the business community cannot do it alone, our nonprofit partners cannot do it alone, and residents and visitors cannot do it alone. However, we can all do it together.

This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among many partners with a joint vision for a safe, clean and joyful downtown.

Our plan has six parts:

It starts downtown with CLEAR STREETS AND SAFE SIDEWALKS. We know homeless encampments are unsafe for the folks living in them, and unwelcoming to the people who live around them. That is why we worked so hard to get 1,135 people off the streets and into housing in 2023, and we are proud that for the first time in what many of us can remember, there are no tents in downtown Denver. That success allows us a fresh start to make sure we keep it that way.

Our second step is about engaging all of Denver in the shared ownership of keeping the city safe and clean. If you see something, say something, or rather, if you see something, text something. We set up a new EASY REPORTING SYSTEM, with the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Clean and Safe app (available to download on iPhone and Android), which allows any resident or visitor to notify us when something doesn't make Denver feel safe and clean. If you see unsightly trash somewhere, let us know. If there is a person in mental health distress, let us know. If there is someone using drugs in public, let us know. If someone sets up a tent in front of your business, let us know. Denver should be a place where everyone feels comfortable.

In addition to easy reporting, we need FAST RESPONSE, and response with the right intervention. This reporting system allows us to send the right request to the right person for the right support. For trash clean-up, our waste management team responds. If a person experiencing homelessness needs services, we can dispatch our outreach teams and community partners, like the Dream Center, to help connect them to services and support. If there’s someone in a mental health crisis, the outreach teams will contact the appropriate response services. If someone is committing a crime, that information will get to Denver Police.

There are many partners working to keep Denver safe and clean, but they often work without coordination and collaboration. This effort not only connects all these partners — including nonprofits, city employees, private security partners and the Downtown Denver Partnership -- but will be highly visible and clear to the public with our DENVER AMBASSADOR PROGRAM.

Yellow vest with Denver logo on it

All partners will wear a yellow vest and share one linked channel of communication. That means anytime a member of the public sees someone in this yellow vest, they know that person is there to help keep Denver safe and clean. For a visitor walking home from a Nuggets game or a resident taking a run at 9 o'clock at night, the yellow vest is the sign of safety and support. For a situation that makes anyone feel unsafe or if someone is in need of support, the Denver Ambassadors are the team who can help provide immediate support and connect people to the services they need. 

Finally, we know safety is not just about the absence of crime; it is about the presence of joy. We are also rolling out partnerships with our community and our businesses to help activate the joy of downtown Denver. We launched our Dynamic Downtown Denver grant program several months ago, which calls on our creative Denver partners to bring their passions to put on display in downtown through COMMUNITY ACTIVATION. That includes a family friendly New Year’s Eve event with hot air balloons, to a public performance of Romeo and Juliet, to Mariachi festivals, to open mic nights, to foot badminton in the park.

In addition to these special activation events led by community members, we are also launching a partnership with our businesses downtown to be co-authors of the city’s activation through a BUSINESS ACTIVATION PROGRAM. We will work with businesses to strategically activate their buildings, their blocks and their neighborhoods to ensure downtown Denver is always vibrant. We will also work to make it easy to permit and plan these activities. This can be everything from outdoor staff happy hours to games on the street.

This is a comprehensive plan for a vibrant downtown Denver. We want Denver to be the best place in the country to live, work and play. That starts with a downtown with CLEAR STREETS AND SAFE SIDEWALKS, and without encampments, and we need an EASY REPORTING SYSTEM through an app, so we can all take action to keep Denver safe and clean. It will also include a highly visible DENVER AMBASSADOR PROGRAM that can help deliver a FAST RESPONSE, and the right responder to the right need at the right time, to make Denver feel safe without it feeling over policed. And through BUSINESS ACTIVATION, Denver's businesses can then thrive in their communities.