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Crime and Community: A Solutions-Based Town Hall at The Citadel Mall

Posted at 1:58 PM, Feb 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 00:55:06-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Most people in Colorado Springs would agree that we live in one of the most beautiful cities in America.

KOAA News5, The Gazette, and our panelists took community questions and talked about solutions to reduce crime in Colorado Springs.

Panelists included Mayor Yemi Mobolade, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez, District 5 Councilmember Nancy Henjum, DeAndre Smith with Men of Influence, Mitchell High School Principal George Smith, and other members of the community.

Chief Adrian Vasquez said overall crime is down in the city, but certain things like motor vehicle thefts and juvenile crime are up. He said last year there were 4,383 motor vehicle thefts reported in the city. Data from CSPD shows a 33% increase in motor vehicle thefts from 2022 to 2023. Chief Vasquez said there were 400 juveniles suspected of crimes in the city each month in 2023 and a quarter were suspects in persons crimes like assault, robbery, and attempted murder.

“There’s just a lot that we have yet to do but we’re making great strides and I think these partnerships are vital," said Chief Vasquez.

DeAndre Smith said the solution to helping youth starts with having conversations with them and teaching them accountability.

“I just don’t want people to forget that these are our children that we’re dealing with. If we’re not willing to step up for our children then none of this is going to matter," he said.

Smith also pointed to more after school programs and teen clubs as a possible solution to increased juvenile violence.

"The root problem is the prevention, the interruption, and resources, meaning money, so we can provide something for these kids to do," he said.

The town hall took place at The Citadel Mall on the southeast side of the city, which has seen violence before. Most recently, an 18-year-old man was shot and killed inside the mall last Christmas Eve. Councilmember Henjum said the mall has added more armed security guards since the shooting.

When asked if the city should add more security measures at the mall, Mayor Mobolade said that would be government overreach.

“We’re not going to come and force you to have cameras and things like that. That’s not part of our job," he said.

Principal George Smith said he grew up coming to The Citadel and wants people to know the positives the place still provides to the community.

“I would hope that as a community, gatherings like this will bring about more conversation so that we can enjoy the mall as I remember it as a young person."

The town hall was moderated by KOAA News5 Investigates’ Alasyn Zimmerman.
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