State troopers now have more leeway to crack down on encampments near State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion

Tents in the area have multiplied in recent weeks.
2 min. read
An encampment at Lincoln Park at Lincoln Street and Colfax Avenue. July 17, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Denver is authorizing state police to enforce city laws, including its urban camping ban, in areas around the State Capitol and Governor's Mansion where tents have multiplied in recent weeks.

Department of Safety director Murphy Robinson signed off on the "pilot program," which expires in October, that gives state troopers the authority to enforce certain city laws related to urban camping, trespassing, disturbing the peace, assault and destruction of public and private property. The green area around the State Capitol has been home to a large encampment in recent weeks, and protesters have recently camped near the Governor's Mansion. As of Friday afternoon, the tents near the Governor's Mansion were gone.

"Prior to the delegation, they could detain individuals and cite them, but then DPD had to process those individuals," wrote Department of Safety spokesperson Kelli Christensen in an email to Denverite. "Now CSP can manage the entire process on state owned property in Denver, as long as they follow Denver policy, including Use of Force."

Troopers "must coordinate significant or planned enforcement decision and actions" with the Department of Safety and before enforcing city laws must receive training from the department and City Attorney's Office. The training was to be completed Monday.

The city's police force has been holding off on enforcing the camping ban during the pandemic. Public health officials have said dispersing people experiencing homelessness during a pandemic could make it hard to control the spread of disease.

Christensen said DPD would also participate in enforcement.

"It's not that DPD would not participate, it's empowering CSP to enforce Denver's municipal code directly instead of having to wait on DPD," she wrote. "It's about expanding resources."

During a press conference on July 23, Gov. Jared Polis said the state had been working with Denver officials to give state troopers, who mostly focus on patrolling highways, more jurisdiction to enforce the laws. Polis said he has encouraged law enforcement agencies to remove tents.

On Thursday, a man was killed and two more are in critical condition after a shooting near 14th and Broadway near Civic Center Park. The suspect or suspects are still at large.

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