May 31, 2014 Updated: May 31, 2014 at 9:24 pm
Downtown's bars, clubs, shops and restaurants will welcome a new neighbor this summer: the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The department is adding a fifth police substation to its patrol division in July as a part of a collaborative effort to improve safety in the downtown corridor. The new substation - which will be staffed days, nights and weekends - will share space with the Melting Pot, Braxton Technologies, Vladmir Jones, The Gazette and several other tenants in a building at 6 N. Tejon St..
"The goal is to get it up as quickly as possible," said Susan Edmonson, CEO of the Downtown Partnership, which, through the Downtown Development Authority, provided $10,000 in funding for the substation's construction. The partnership works collaboratively with police on issues including safety, crime reduction and homelessness.
The substation will be fully functional and equipped with the technology and resources to handle all the needs of 14 officers and two sergeants, said Gold Hill Patrol Division Commander Pat Rigdon. Officers at the substations will patrol on foot and on bicycles. Other's will work specifically with the homeless population.
There also will be a small street-level office in the building that will be staffed by officers, police service representatives and volunteers with the Community Advancing Public Safety program, he said.
The substation's location at the northwest corner of Tejon Street and Pikes Peak Avenue means officers will be just steps away from an area that harbors a hotbed of activities, both good and bad.
"Anytime you have retail, there can be shoplifting. When there's a high concentration of people, there can be some opportunities for negative activities," said Edmondson. "We see all kinds of things. Most of them are simple things. Any kind needs a little attention."
Vagrancy, theft and the usual capers of the nighttime crowd on Tejon Street are things police often deal with in their patrols of the downtown area. Several bars between Kiowa Street and Pikes Peak Avenue liven up Wednesday and Thursday nights, before the normal blitz of weekend revelers hit the short strip of bars and clubs on Fridays and Saturdays. Add in panhandlers and a homeless crowd that tend to congregate around the 7 Eleven on the same block, and it keeps police busy.
"We hope that the enhanced presence impacts criminal behavior and quality-of-life issues downtown," Rigdon said in an email. "The bottom line is that people tend to curtail their criminal activity when police are present."
"Certainly, increasing safety helps our downtown environment," she said, adding that a more robust police presence is pretty common solution when it comes to developing and enhancing downtown areas.
Aside from that, the new substation will make it easier for police to do their jobs.
When officers on foot patrols make an arrest, file a report or submit evidence, they have to leave the downtown "core" and head to the nearest substation, Gold Hill, at 955 W Moreno Ave., off 8th Street. That takes them away from their work on the streets, said Edmondson.
The new substation will not only help them get better-acquainted with the people they serve, it will also provide them with the convenience of being close to resources they need for day-to-day patrol work.
"The more time they can spend on the streets getting familiar with patterns, the better it's going to be for everyone," she said.