COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After a woman said a group of homeless people confronted her at Vermijo Park, News 5 asked Colorado Springs Police how officers enforce “no camping” rules and keep public parks safe.
Virginia Paul, who says she’s scared to visit Vermijo Park, claims those individuals had been camping out despite the posted “no camping sign”.
News 5’s Jessica Barreto asked Colorado Springs Police officers: how incident-prone is Vermijo Park?
“We see very few problems here at Vermijo Park,” said Officer Mark Sandoval, who’s been working at Colorado Springs Police Department for 26 years.
A team of six officers, including Sandoval, are part of the downtown area response team – or D.A.R.T.
They often handle calls from residents reporting homeless camping.
“The officer are experienced, they’ve done a number of these,” said Lieutenant Mike Lux with Colorado Springs Police Department.
Sandoval says people often mistake homeless people carrying their belongings with campers.
“There’s no violation of that,” he explained.
“They’re just using the city park like any other citizen can do.”
Unless laying out bedding and sleeping in the park, they have the right to be there within park hours.
But if they cause a disturbance, police say you should call them immediately.
“We don’t hold back when it comes to writing a summons or arrest of somebody, we just don’t,” added Lt. Lux.
One homeless woman News 5’s Jessica Barreto caught up in Bancroft Park says that’s exactly what she tries to avoid.
“I see trouble, I go someplace else,” said the woman, who goes by the nickname “Missy.”
And she carries all her belongings for one reason.
“I keep my belongings with me so they don’t get stolen,” she added.
But when the park closes, she follows the rules and leaves.
“You should respect the law,” she said.
“Because if you don’t, you’re gonna get caught.”