Gold Hill commander says sweeps of transient camps will continue
Although how it will be accomplished is not certain, the commander of Colorado Springs Police's Gold Hill Division pledged this week that sweeps of transient camps
The statement by Kurt Pillard was in response to a Westside Pio-neer news article July 26 in which a long-time Police Department sweep leader - whose job has been redefined by a recent department reorganization - had said he did not expect them to continue.
Occurring generally on a monthly basis for the past several years, the sweeps have cleared out the camps - including ones along Fountain Creek on the Westside - with Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful (KCSB) helping out by picking up the debris.
Deborah Cunningham, head of KCSB, said she was pleased to hear what Pillard said, but is concerned about the lack of a schedule and not knowing which officers would be available to carry out the sweeps.
Pillard said he believed officers could be found, either within the Gold Hill Division or Code Enforce-ment. “It's just a matter of coordinating with Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful,” he said. “If they contact us, absolutely we would do it.”
He just couldn't guarantee that the officers would be those who have worked with KCSB in dealing with transients in the past. Cunningham believes that is important, whereas Pillard said one of the goals of the department is cross-training, so that any officer can take on any assignment. “We pay officers a lot of money to use discretion wisely,” he said.
He added that the reason the sweeps have not occurred since April was not related to the reorg, but to an unusually high number of injury time off needed by Gold Hill officers. As a result, officers who have normally participated in the sweeps have been unavailable or doing other work, he said.
Another camp sweep, implemented at Cunning-ham's request, is scheduled this week.
The sweeps typically turn up a few dozen transients illegally settling along area creeks. Alcohol, drugs and unsanitary conditions are the norm, according to Cunningham. She noted that on a cold day last winter, such a sweep also saved the lives of two men who would otherwise have frozen to death.
In Pillard's initial phone call to the Westside Pioneer, he said the sweeps would continue under the Investigations Division, but Investigations Commander Harry Killa, contacted afterward, said that was not the case. Contacted again, Pillard said such uncertainties were among the “growing pains” involved in the reorg.
The reorg, implemented by new Police Chief Richard Meyers, is intended to put more patrol officers onto the streets.
Westside Pioneer article