New program fights crime, promotes Old Town shopping

       So you're a thief, and as you enter an Old Colorado City shop you see two people outside dressed like the 1800s, chatting away with tourists. Your only thought is, “What a couple of saps!” as you enter the store and proceed to slip one savory garment after another inside your coat.
       Imagine your surprise when moments later a Colorado Springs Police officer is slapping handcuffs on your wrists.
       That's when you realize - or maybe you don't - that you've just been had by the Old Colorado City volunteer Ambassador Program.
       The above is a possible scenario, based on a plan worked out between the CSPD's Gold Hill Division and the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group.
       At the very least, according to Gold Hill Commander Pat Rigdon, Ambassador volunteers can provide a “visible deterrent” to criminals. “There will be extra people walking around who are better aware of the surroundings than average people,” he said. “We've told them to let us know about anything they see that doesn't seem right.”
       In addition to looking out for crime, the volunteers - who may be dressed in historic garb or other identifiable clothing, such as orange vests - can serve as emissaries for the Old Colorado City commercial district, promoting its benefits and providing information to visitors, Rigdon said.
       The program has already been tried successfully in the downtown, he added. Plans for Old Town, starting in mid-June, call for a similar format, with volunteers working shifts of two to three hours each and strolling through the commercial district in pairs.
       Recruits are welcome. “We're trying to get the word out and generate the interest of potential volunteers,” said OCCA President Nelson Roseland.
       An online application is available by calling 444-7735 or going to springsCAPS.org.
       All volunteers must be 18 or older and successfully complete a background check.
       Those accepted will receive training, according to police.

Westside Pioneer/press release