PUEBLO – An alarming video shared on social media this week appears to show addicts shooting up heroin in a Pueblo park. The video was recorded by a teenager who was riding a skateboard at the El Centro Del Quinto Sol skate park Tuesday.
“Its obviously concerning to us, it’s not something that we want the people in our community to face when they go to these parks,” said Deputy Police Chief Chris Noeller.
The police department has had extra officers patrolling the area around this park since before the first of the year. In fact, neighbors told us off camera that open drug abuse and other crimes at the park were much worse last summer.
In fact, the image runs contrary to the many efforts underway by state and local leaders to confront opioid abuse.
“I think when you talk about the opioid crisis, there’s not really a single corner of Colorado that has not experienced this,” said State Representative Daneya Esgar. “We’re really trying to find out ways to move funding to recover and to prevention and to help all of Colorado to recover from this.”
She and State Senator Leroy Garcia championed a bill in 2016 that boosted funding to increase the number of local health care providers who have been trained in drug treatment best practices. A task force of lawmakers meets every month in between legislative sessions to study and draft new legislation to continue combating heroin and opioid addiction.
Police officers in Pueblo now carry the anti-overdose medication Narcan, and the department launched a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program earlier this year which puts non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail.
Meanwhile, those heroin-addicted inmates inside the jail receive doses of the opioid treatment naloxone to prevent violent withdrawal symptoms. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office also announced Friday plans for a grand opening of a re-entry center next week to continue substances abuse treatment for inmates once they’re released.
“This is not what we want Pueblo to be known for is this, and this is not what goes on on a day to day basis in our parks and in our community,” Deputy Chief Noeller said.
While the video suggests there’s still work to be done, Esgar wants the community to know that leaders in every level of government are committed to ending this drug epidemic.
“I feel like we’re really on the cusp of something great in Pueblo but we’re starting to turn that corner and we’re starting to see these ideas blossom into a reality,” Esgar said. “I think we need to just continue at the state level at least to listen to those solutions and figure out how we can be a part of that and how to help.”