Colorado Springs Police bust of Steven Woods first under urban camping ban ordinance
At approximately 9:50 a.m. yesterday, the Colorado Springs Police Department made its first arrest for the city's public camping ban, which officers began enforcing ordinance in 2010. During an investigation of unlawful camps that had been set up in the area, members of the city's Homeless Outreach Team encountered 52-year-old Steven Wood near the Martin Luther King Bypass. After what the official police report calls "several verbal warnings as well as a written warning," Wood was taken into custody.
During the outreach team's contact with Wood, he is reported to have grown confrontational, leading the two officers involved to restrain him prior to arrest. (Update: According to CSPD Lieutenant Patricia Feese, no department supervisor was present during the arrest. Although Denver Police Chief Robert White has promised a supervisor will approve any potential Denver camping ban arrests before they are made, at least in the local ban's first year, this is not part of the Colorado Springs policy.)
Wood declined the team's offers of temporary housing options. Officers involved in the arrest recognized Wood from past encounters, during which he gave them a false name. They also determined he had a previous warrant on his record for a separate misdemeanor charge.
Wood has been booked into the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso County.
The full Colorado Springs ordinance reads:
9.6.110: CAMPING ON PUBLIC PROPERTY PROHIBITED
A. It is unlawful for any person to camp on any public property, except as may be specifically authorized by the appropriate governmental authority.
B. For purposes of this section "camp" or "camping" means to use the public area for living accommodation including, but not limited to, the activities and circumstances listed below. These activities and circumstances may be considered in determining whether reasonable grounds for belief have arisen that a person has "camped" or is " camping " in violation of this section.
1. Sleeping or making preparations to sleep, including the lying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping.
2. Occupying a shelter out of doors. "Shelter" shall mean any cover or protection from the elements other than clothing, such as a tent, shack, sleeping bag, or other structure or material.
3. The presence or use of a campfire, camp stove or other heating source or cooking device.
4. Keeping or storing personal property. (Ord. 10-10)
In May, Denver City Council approved its own ban on urban camping, which for months created controversy during debates between activists and politicians, with supporters citing Colorado Springs' record of zero related arrests. In Denver, the number is still at zero.
With its months-old ban, Denver joined Colorado cities such as Aspen and Boulder, as well as Colorado Springs, in banning camping on public property.
Here's a larger look at Wood's mug shots.
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