Colorado Springs adds private security to patrol downtown areas

Despite the addition of police patrolling in the city’s core, including a greater effort to address vagrancy, a downtown Colorado Springs advocacy group has said the effort is not enough.

Two security guards now also are patrolling downtown streets looking for aggressive panhandlers, moving along people loitering in alleyways and parking structures and responding to calls for assistance.

The program, paid for by the Downtown Development Authority, an affiliate of the Downtown Partnership, comes after business owners and shoppers complained about vagrants and loiterers.

The city, its police department and the Downtown Partnership, along with its affiliated groups, have tried numerous avenues to address the issue.

Security cameras are affixed to buildings and streetlights, two repeat offenders have accepted a ban from the city’s downtown, a police satellite office at Pikes Peak Avenue and Tejon Street houses officers, including those from the department’s Homeless Outreach Team, and signs telling people “It’s OK to say no,” to panhandlers are in the city’s core.

The guards, who are unarmed and carry handcuffs, will monitor the area roughly between St. Vrain Street to the north, Weber Street to the east, Moreno Avenue to the south and Cascade Avenue to the west, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week until the end of September.

“In a sense, it’s more than being a deterrent, it’s really extra eyes and ears on the street,” said Sandy Friedman, public space manager for the Business Improvement District, also part of the Downtown Partnership. Friedman said the security officers are not acting on behalf of police, but can provide a quick response if a business owner is in need.

The program coincides with an expected increase in visitors and shoppers downtown during the summer months, he said. Security guards also were used Nov. 1-Dec. 24 during the holiday shopping season.

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