Colorado jails to provide in person voting, private security spending increase, RTD ridership falls

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    06_04_2024_am_headlines Greta Kerkhoff

Private security service spending increase 

The Denver City Council authorized up to $24 million last night for private security services across the city.

The increase in spending for this year is meant to address Denver’s changing safety needs. According to the Denver Post, the demand for these services has grown significantly over the past two years, largely due to the 24-hour security services at migrant and homeless shelters across the city.

The funding expands an existing contract with Securitas Security Services USA, from $25 million to $43 million. That company currently provides on-site security for three former hotels that act as shelters for the unhoused, as part of Mayor Mike Johnston’s All In Mile High initiative.

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RTD Ridership 

Coloradans aren’t taking RTD public transit as much as they were a few years ago, even as the agency’s budget increases.

That’s according to an analysis by the Common Sense Institute, which found that RTD ridership fell 46 percent from 2019 to 2022. 

The report was released on May 18, and co-authored by former Denver mayoral candidate Kelly Brough, in an effort to make sure funding for Denver’s transit is producing a worthwhile outcome for riders.

The report said crime near and on public transit is a major reason people aren’t riding RTD, citing safety concerns.

According to Westword, RTD says that efforts to apply the report’s findings are already underway.

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Denver aims to reduce the number of veterans living on the street 

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston is setting his sights on making Denver the largest city in the country with no veterans living on the streets.

At a press conference on Monday, Johnston acknowledged that veterans experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate in Colorado. 

He said the city has already been tracking veterans living on the streets through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Denver Department of Housing Stability. By doing so, Johnston claims they’ve identified 52 veterans living on the streets and plan to provide them housing by the end of the year.

In order to achieve this, the city will be working with volunteer organizations and nonprofits to connect veterans with shelters and housing.

According to CBS News Colorado, Johnston aims to keep veterans off the streets by making sure there are more veterans gaining shelter than there are currently experiencing homelessness. The Department of Veteran Affairs reports 752 veterans were taken off the streets in Colorado in 2023.

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Colorado makes in person voting available in all jails

A new bill will allow those incarcerated in Colorado’s jail system to vote in-person while in custody. 

Senate Bill 24-072, signed on Friday by Gov. Jared Polis, requires Colorado’s county jails to provide at least six hours of in-person voting in the days before Election Day. The bill also requires the facilities to set up mail-in ballot drop off hubs on-site.

According to the Denver Post, Colorado is the first state in the nation to require its jails to provide in-person voting.

In Colorado, only convicted felons are prohibited from voting. Those serving jail time for misdemeanor convictions can still cast ballots.

According to the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, between 2020 and 2022, 9,293 jailed Coloradans who were eligible to vote didn’t do so.

In Denver, which offered in-person voting in jails during the 2023 mayoral elections, proportional voter turnout was higher.

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