People who visit downtown have got to feel safe, said Mayor Steve Bach. That's why he is working to get more police officers on foot patrol downtown and looking into buying an LED light system that would make nighttime look like high noon.
"We've got to make it a place where people are comfortable," Bach said. "My wife and I had dinner last week and as we were walking out from dinner we were accosted by a couple of people and didn't feel real comfortable, for example."
Bach's plan for more police and bright lights is part of his "downtown renaissance," which includes a city-backed proposal to win state tax rebates for major tourism attractions like an Olympics Museum and a downtown multi-use stadium.
Public safety is a part of his renaissance plan, he said.
Last year, the city added downtown surveillance cameras and increased police presence in the area to deter crime. The downtown cameras have helped police officers make several arrests and even came into play when a resident was having a heart attack and officers were called for emergency assistance.
"I've talked with Chief (Pete) Carey to deploy more walking patrols downtown," Bach said.
Twelve of the 48 police recruits headed to the Colorado Springs Police Academy in August will be assigned to the Gold Hill police substation, which includes downtown, when they graduate.
Bach wants to see most of those 12 new officers on foot downtown. Now there are two police officers on downtown foot patrol during the day Tuesdays through Fridays, and four officers from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, a spokeswoman for the police department said.
This summer, the city spent $102,000 to add LED street lights at Acacia Park and along Tejon Street, from Colorado Avenue to Boulder Street. Bach is looking into adding a device that would allow the lights to flood on and be activated from the police substation or police patrol cars. Other cities, including Chattanooga, Tenn. have installed similar lighting systems in downtown, he said. In Chattanooga, the city spent $6 million on the lights, and police can control them from their squad cars.
"We may only be able to do it for a couple of blocks and Acacia Park," he said. "But what that would do is allow us, if we have a certain situation where we are concerned about lighting, we could turn up the lights so it's like noon."