Police back on the weekend evening ‘beat’ in Old Town
Jennene Scott of the Colorado Springs Police walked a beat in Old Colorado City the early evening of Nov. 16. It was the first time she'd done that there, and she
may not get the assignment again, but she was enthusiastic about the opportunity - for herself personally, for police in general and for the shopkeepers she was looking
“This is very positive,” she said. “Your merchants take a great deal of pride in their businesses, and we want to protect that.”
Scott, normally a detective, was working what police call “extra duty.” Officers can put their names on lists for special or temporary assignments around town in addition to their regular shifts. One of those right now is the Old Colorado City “beat,” which is 6 to 10 Friday and Saturday nights and lasts from mid-November to shortly after New Year's.
The extra-duty tab is being paid by the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District, which is funded by the roughly 100 property owners in Old Town. After more than five years in which the budget didn't allow it, this is the second time this year that the district has been able to afford extra-duty police on weekends.
Police are on the alert for various issues in the 6-to-10 p.m. scenario. Four that Scott mentioned are people needing assistance, individuals acting suspiciously, panhandlers and parking violations. An eye is out for drunk drivers, but that isn't a major goal. “It's very hard to get drunks in a four-block radius,” Scott said. “But if somebody driving is obviously intoxicated, that's part of my job.”
Police are also not likely to go after ticky-tack violations, such as jay-walking or riding a bike along the sidewalk. It also appears likely that simply seeing an officer can have an effect. Someone who was parking on the street asked Scott if he was in a legal spot (he wasn't). And a sidewalk cyclist saw the officer coming the other way and wordlessly started walking his bike.
Scott added that nearby residents are also invited to talk to the Old Colorado City officer, because the shopping district is bounded by neighborhoods a block to the north and south, and there can be impacts between the two areas.
Working the Westside is a little different from other parts of town. From a personal standpoint (her family once owned property over here), Scott values the strong feeling many Westsiders have - as seen by continuing generations of families who caring about their neighborhoods. Functionally speaking, officers have to be aware that “there are more nooks and crannies, with very small shops,” she pointed out.
Although the weather was nice Nov. 16 and Scott enjoyed being on foot, she was not required to leave her car for her Old Colorado City extra duty. Danny Gieck, the Colorado Springs Parks liaison to the district, said that what the district advisory committee requested was simply to have an officer there to “show some presence,” most likely by “driving up and down.”
For Scott, walking the beat and talking to the public is almost like “play,” she said. The interaction “is something we don't always get as police officers. People can tell you about something you're not aware of, or you can tell them about something they're not aware of.”
Theresa Barbera of the Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Company said she thought the added police presence was “great.” Also happy to make Scott's acquaintance was Pat Williams of the Honey Cottage, another of the few stores that were still open after 6 p.m. that night.
The previous district contract for extra-duty police was last summer, when the cops were on from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays - the idea then being to limit late-night rowdiness.
This time the occasion is the Christmas season. The district committee's stated goals are to improve security for shoppers and possibly encourage more stores to stay open late.
“I hope this proves to be a benefit for them,” Officer Scott said, before embarking on another “lap” (as she called it) of Old Colorado City.
Westside Pioneer article