DENVER (KDVR) — Concerns remain at Union Station stations, as transit workers and travelers continue to sound alarms about safety issues as drug users continue to congregate.
It has been two months since the union representing RTD workers – Amalgamated Transit Union 1001 – Draw attention to this issue. A union spokesperson said some RTD employees are calling out due to exposure to fentanyl smoke on trains.
On Mondays near the stations, it was still a sketchy sight. FOX31 spoke with a man who showed fentanyl he was about to smoke.
“That’s blue,” said the man. This is the common name for fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. “I wish they would never make it. He said… I wish I had never, to be honest with you.”
People say they are afraid and frustrated with circumstances. Rachel Richlinsky, from Denver, has traveled through Union Station before. But last Thursday at around 6 a.m., she said, there was no clear security, no police nearby and a lot of people taking drugs.
“The best way to describe it,” she said, “is that she was a zombie apocalypse.” “There were just too many, and I can’t really put a number to how many of them are. [They] It has no human functions it seems. Their bodies were moving in strange ways.”
She said a man approached her and verbally harassed her. She ran to a bus driver for help and she said the RTD driver told her, “I know, this is awful, this is very unsafe, and no one is going to do anything about it.”
“From a distance, from the outside looking in, it’s this beautiful institution, the famous and well-known building in the city,” said Rechlinsky. “Why isn’t it like that downstairs? Is it because the city cares more about trains than buses? Or is it because it’s downstairs, so it’s out of the public eye, out of sight, out of mind?”
Denver officials respond
FOX31 has reached out to the county attorney’s office for an interview about this. They rejected the request, and their spokesperson said in a statement:
“In the past six months, we’ve met with three neighborhood organizations registered with Union Station/LoDo and most of the concerns we hear are about vagrancy, public urination, criminal trespassing, drug use and petty theft. With the exception of drug offenses, these cases are being prosecuted by the Denver District Attorney’s Office that executes abuses. Municipal/City. Therefore, I respectfully decline your request.”
“The city is working closely with RTD to restore Denver Union Station as a safe, secure, and welcoming facility,” the Denver District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. He continues: Since November, the Denver Police Department has ramped up enforcement efforts, including hundreds of hours of overtime in January alone and hundreds of arrests over the past few months.”
They also said that “the city and RTD are also working on several other actions that can be taken to improve safety, including increased efforts to address drug use, drug trafficking, and inappropriate behavior in and around Denver Union Station.”