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.
See also: • "Urban camping ban heats up packed city council committee meeting" • "Urban camping ban: Albus Brooks calls it an emergency" • "Albus Brooks regrets Facebooking, tweeting urban camping ban critics" • "Urban camping: Occupy Denver protests precede council vote on ban" • "Urban camping: A timeline of how the ban began -- and where it's headed" • "Photos: Denver City Council preliminarily passes urban camping ban" • "Urban camping ban: Denver Police outline enforcement protocol" • "Urban camping ban: Police delay enforcement to continue education" • "Denver cops start enforcing urban camping ban: No arrests or citations yet" • "Michael Hancock praises early impact of urban camping ban"
More from our News archive: "Dr. Stephen Stein, alleged needle re-user, under investigation for prescription fraud."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.