Denver’s beefing up security at hotel shelter for the unhoused where a man and woman were killed last weekend

New security measures include the installation of a photo badging system, more cameras and more police.
5 min. read
The Double Tree hotel at 4040 N. Quebec St. Oct. 26, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

A man and woman were found dead at an east Denver hotel shelter Saturday and now new security measures have been put in place there.

Denver Police, in a tweet, said a man and woman were found dead at the Denver Navigation Campus at 4040 N. Quebec St., the former DoubleTree hotel that was converted to transitional housing as part of Mayor Mike Johnston’s House1000 initiative. The deaths are being investigated as homicides and DPD were looking for a suspect.

DPD did not immediately provide additional information about the ongoing investigation.

In response, city officials with the mayor’s office said they have implemented new security measures at the Navigation Center including the installation of a photo badging system for staff and residents, adding more surveillance cameras, increasing DPD presence and increasing staff presence, which includes contracted security guards.

“As part of our ongoing process, the city will continue to evaluate operations at all of our facilities and adjust as necessary,” officials said. “Different locations require different security measures and some of the steps being taken at the DoubleTree are already established at other sites. The goal is always to ensure our sites, residents, staff and community are safe.”

The Best Western Central Park at 4595 Quebec Street.
Kyle Harris/Denverite

Through the House1000 initiative, now rebranded as “All In Mile High,” four hotels were converted into transitional housing to help move people off the streets: a former Best Western at 4595 N. Quebec; the Radisson Hotel at 4849 Bannock; the Embassy Suites at 7525 E. Hampden; and the Navigation Center, where the homicides occurred.

Safety and how the city would manage safety at the shelter sites were major concerns for nearby residents.

Since November, right around the time when the Navigation Campus opened, DPD has received 446 service calls to the campus’ address, according to DPD data received on March 18.

Of those calls, about 38 incidents were elevated, meaning a report was filed and investigations occurred, according to DPD’s public crime map, which was last updated on March 18.

Most of the calls were listed as “other crimes” and according to DPD’s crime data, those crimes mainly consisted of criminal trespassing or court order violations. Other elevated calls were for “other crimes against a person” or “simple assault” (which is a misdemeanor) and drug and alcohol. There were three calls for aggravated assault.

DPD officials said high service calls with lower elevated incident numbers are typical, especially at places with a higher density of people.

"Quite often, a call for service does not rise to the level of a crime or a report that requires follow-up form an investigator," DPD said. "For instance, if the call is of a welfare check or a suspicious occurrence and there is nothing to support there being an accident or law violation, a report will not be completed. Locations such as apartment complexes or hotels often have higher instances of calls for service due to the amount of people residing in those areas."

At a December 2023 community meeting focused on the Hampden hotel in southeast Denver, where many residents voiced strong disapproval for its opening, DPD Chief Ron Thomas echoed the same sentiment adding that the department generally responds to more calls at encampments than hotel shelters.

A woman who declined to give her name holds protest signs outside of Hamilton Middle School, where Mayor Mike Johnston is holding a public meeting at about his plan to shelter unhoused families with kids in a nearby hotel. Dec. 16, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

DPD added that it is reasonable to see a high number of calls at the shelters because those calls are similar to those from encampments, especially welfare checks.

"Certainly officers responded to numerous calls for service at large encampments and it is reasonable to expect that similar calls for service will be reported with the same population being indoors as calls are often made to check the welfare of residents," DPD said.

But calls and elevated reports are significantly lower at the other hotels.

The Hampden hotel opened in December but has received 181 calls since Nov. 1. DPD has worked on six incidents, including the stabbing of two individuals in January. The stabbings are the only listed aggravated assault crimes at the hotel and DPD said arrests were made in that incident.

The former Best Western has received 130 and DPD has worked on eight incidents, while the Radisson has received 110 with 13 elevated incidents.

According to the All In dashboard and city officials, six people have died in the program, not including the two recent deaths. It’s unclear how the other deaths occurred.

City officials said they will continue to address safety measures as the All In initiative continues.

Among other changes recently announced, officials also said that Cole Chandler, Mayor Johnston's Senior Advisor for Homelessness Resolution, will be appointed as the Senior Advisor and Deputy Director of All In Mile High.

With the appointment, he will be “taking on a hands-on leadership role at the former DoubleTree Hotel in partnership with The Salvation Army” and he would be “responsible for oversight of ALL unsheltered response and outreach efforts including ensuring contracted outcomes at the All In Mile High sites,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include comments from DPD regarding service call numbers.

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