Community talks about high crime at City Council

Guest Author

During the March 3 Fort Collins City Council meeting, some residents raised concerns over increased crime in the town’s Library Park neighborhood during public comment.

The Library Park neighborhood, centered between Old Town and Riverside Avenue, has experienced an increase in crime, according to data reported by Fort Collins Police Services. The residents requested the Council to address these ongoing issues within their neighborhood, and they shared their personal experiences.

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“The increase in incidents around Library Park and around Oak Street is alarming,” said Asad Aziz, a resident of Fort Collins for 35 years. “Every year the number has increased, and I’m just concerned that something serious is going to happen.”

According to the data reported by Fort Collins Police Services, the Library District experienced an 82% increase in disruptive incidents from January 2019 to January 2020. Additionally, there were a total of 1,022 incidents reported to police in the Library Park neighborhood from the beginning of October to the end of January.

Walking the neighborhood, I’ve viewed things that I wouldn’t want to see out of my front door either.” -Jeff Swoboda, Fort Collins Police Services Chief of Police

“One of the things that I wanted to point out is that we’re referred to call the police when we have a concern,” Aziz said. “They are very kind, they are very responsive and they are very efficient. But let’s not forget that the police are an enforcement mechanism; they are not a prevention mechanism.”

All of the incidents reported to Fort Collins Police are recorded and represented on the City’s online crime map. Aziz and other Library Park residents referenced this map numerous times during the meeting, emphasizing to the Council that their neighborhood stands out from the rest.

“I feel as it’s important for everyone to see the visual contrast between the neighborhoods and not just hear it,” said Lisa Eaton, a resident of the neighborhood. “The contrast is pretty astounding.”

While examining the neighborhood crime map, Eaton stated that during the month of January, there were 206 events in the Library Park neighborhood, 52 of which were corrective policing. Zooming in closer to the neighborhood, the map revealed that there were 115 events, 36 which were active policing, Eaton said.

In comparison, using the same zoomed-in scale for eight neighborhoods where City Council members and City leadership live, there were a total of 50 events during January, five of which were corrective policing, Eaton said. 

Eaton also stated that when observing the 12-month trends for each of the neighborhoods, Library Park experienced 15-40 disturbances a month, while the eight other neighborhoods combined only had 0-11.

According to Lori Petrick, a Library Park resident, the high rates of crime experienced in the neighborhood in comparison to the others could be partially caused by the density of services located there.

“Our neighborhood has a particularly different problem than most neighborhoods in our community,” Petrick said.

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Petrick said some of the services located in the neighborhood include a sex offender treatment program, the region’s only syringe exchange program, a seasonal overflow shelter, a church that offers a free clinic each Saturday for primary care and a 24/7 restroom.

During the public comment follow-up, the Fort Collins Police Services Chief of Police Jeff Swoboda addressed the community’s concerns over increased crime within the Library Park neighborhood.

Specifically, Swoboda said because of the density of services located in the neighborhood, a majority of the incidents occurring are with individuals experiencing homelessness.

“Walking the neighborhood, I’ve viewed things that I wouldn’t want to see out of my front door either,” Swoboda said.

Swoboda said officers are doing the best they can and are committed to working with them and other City officials to come up with a solution for the problem.

Kelsie Lervick can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.