COLORADO SPRINGS — On Thursday morning, members of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) blocked off the parking lot at Dorchester Park on South Nevada.
A spokesperson for the city confirmed the closure happened at CSPD’s request and mentioned there is no timeline to reopen the lot.
According to CSPD, their Downtown Area Response Team (DART) received a tip in May regarding the distribution of narcotics in the park. In addition, CSPD said DART also received numerous complaints of “increased violent activity” along the S Nevada Corridor.
The park, bordered by S Nevada Ave to the south and I-25 NB to the west and north, has been problematic for law enforcement for years.
The area is routinely used as a living and gathering space for people experiencing homelessness. Police regularly deal with drug use and respond to violence there, as well.
Most recently, CSPD said its officers witnessed “several hand-to-hand narcotics transactions in the east parking lot.”
During this targeted campaign, CSPD said it made a large number of arrests, including:
- 27 various misdemeanor arrests from warrants
- Four various felony arrests from warrants
- Seven misdemeanor citations served for drug activity
- Two traffic citations
- Eight search warrants written
CSPD also reported it recovered:
- 39.5 fentanyl pills
- 10.69 grams of methamphetamine
- 9.42 grams of heroin
- 32.89 grams of marijuana
- 17.17 grams of cocaine
- 10 xanax pills
Additionally, four people were arrested for felony drug charges:
- Kerry Sherrow
- Terry Woods
- Scott Keel
- Cleve Watson
“These results are a demonstration of our officers’ efforts across the city to keep all of our community parks and open areas safe and open to our citizens,” said Deputy Chief Dave Edmondson.
Two years ago the Parks Department and CSPD installed fencing to block off the park’s two picnic pavilions, a move some local organizations protested.
After years of regular incidents of “illegal behavior” in the pavilions, the city said at the time the barricades were erected to help the police “get a handle” on the situation.
They are still in place.
Local groups, such as Pikes Peak Women for Liberation, Spreading Smiles and Sandwiches, and Southern Colorado Health Network, insist the park is important, and the people who use it, worth protecting.