Police chief to speak at No Man’s Land meeting April 4

       Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey and his staff will lead a public meeting titled “No Man's Land Law Enforcement Update” Wednesday, April 4 at the Shrine Club, 6 S. 33rd St.
       Scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the event will be a “call to action for the businesses and residents of the Westside,” according to a flyer that's being passed out to businesses and residences. “Learn what you can do (and should not do) to help prevent crime in our area.”
       Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), announced the meeting and flyer while speaking at the Citizen Discussion portion of the City Council meeting March 27.
       One of the hopes of the “Update,” Clark told council, is to get the message to certain businesses and residences that they are “doing things that actually encourage some of the behavior we're seeing.” For example, although police recommend otherwise, “someone puts stuff out to be taken. We kind of need to work on that.”
       Meeting attendees are asked to bring written copies of questions. Questions not addressed during the meeting will be answered via email or phone at a later date, the flyer states.
       In a sober reminder of the problems in the area, Clark suggested that only one representative of each household attend to avoid empty houses becoming crime targets during the meeting.
       The so-called No Man's Land area, along Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street, is at the western end of a city-established neighborhood strategy area for which OWN is the recognized advocacy group. OWN got involved in recent months after hearing regular reports about burglaries, aggressive panhandling, drug-dealing, public drunkenness and other problems in that area.
       Co-sponsoring the “Update” meeting will be the Avenue Merchants (representing merchants west of 31st) and Grandview Neighborhood Watch (representing residents north of the avenue west of 31st).
       Bonnie Lapora, the Grandview Watch leader, also spoke at the council meeting. She told council the main problem for the neighborhood now is mail theft, including checks and even regular mail items.
       City Councilmember Bernie Herpin noted that such is a federal offense, but Lapora said that when she approached postal authorities they said it was a police matter.
       Lapora also asked for city help on what to do when residents identify individuals who are trying to burglarize mailboxes. When this happened recently, police told residents they had no officers available. “We're citizens like everyone else,” Lapora said. “We're not police wannabes, but we're forced to follow people for a safe distance and hope the good guys show up.”
       Other invitees to the April 4 meeting include law enforcement representatives from Manitou Springs and El Paso County. They also answer No Man's Land calls because the older-motel area west of 31st up to the Highway 24 overpass takes in those jurisdictions.
       Anticipated meeting topics include how to deal with crimes such as soliciting, panhandling/aggressive panhandling and property theft; how to report a crime or criminal behavior; CSPD response and what to expect; CSPD do's/don'ts in thwarting crimes or criminal activity and discussion of a proposed No Man's Land “stakeholder task force” that, according to Clark, could become an ongoing group to monitor area problems and work with law enforcement authorities.

Westside Pioneer article