Sheriff’s ‘Command Post’ spends a few days in OCC

       A large El Paso County Sheriff's vehicle called the “Mobile Command Post” parked in Old Colorado City Sept. 10 and was expected to stay there through Sept. 13.

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies confer outside their Mobile Command Post in the Old Town Propane lot off West Colorado Avenue Sept. 10. Deputies and police used the facility as a base through the week to focus on Old Colorado City crime concerns.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The command post, equipped with sophisticated electronics and the capability to address emergency issues from a remote location, set up in the parking lot of Old Town Propane, in the 2700 block of Colorado Avenue, with the permission of the business owners, Don and Linda Schlarb.
       Using the post as the starting point through the week, several deputies and police officers from the Gold Hill station fanned out in the historic shopping district area, talking to business people and residents about crime concerns, according to Lt. Jon Mueller of the Sheriff's Office.
       He said the goal was not to write tickets, but to “get seen and to talk to as many people as we can.”
       Gold Hill Commander Pat Rigdon described the effort as being “like a surge, for want of better terminology.”
       Linda Schlarb, a member of a citizen-geared volunteer action group called the Avenue Task Force, said she favors increased law-enforcement presence in areas such as Old Colorado City that attract transients, in hopes of curbing problems of panhandling, trespassing, vagrancy and theft. Another Westside area that authorities (and the task force) have focused on is the Red Rock shopping center farther to the west.
       A big problem near Old Colorado City, Schlarb noted, is the Midland Trail through Vermijo Park, which she said has become a “hobo highway.”
       Merchants have also complained about shoplifting in their stores and perceived drug-dealing in Bancroft Park.
       At the Old Colorado City History Center, vagrants this summer have frequently been found sleeping outside the building's main door (which is blocked from view on 24th Street by a handicapped ramp and wall), and they even use the concrete steps to the locked basement door as an outhouse. These activities have forced the volunteer Old Colorado City Historical Society, which owns and operates the building, to start considering expenditures to remodel the entry ramp and enclose the steps, according to its president, Sharon Swint.
       Rigdon said police have been made aware of these problems and plan to check the History Center in the nighttime “as much as possible.”
       Mueller said that because of continuing demands elsewhere in the county, the command-post vehicle can only stay in one place for short periods, but pledged that the unit will be back in Old Colorado City from time to time.

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