The Cherry Creek bike path running along Speer Boulevard has become a place not just for cyclists and joggers but for addicts to shoot up heroin in the middle of the day.
“We have a situation where we have people that are opiate addicted down in that area that are basically using drugs on a regular basis and we are going after it on a regular basis and we are trying to combat it on a regular basis,” said Denver Police spokesperson Sonny Jackson.
A 9NEWS camera crew spent about three hours on the trail Tuesday morning and caught multiple people sticking needles in their arms as well as a drug deal go down underneath the bridge at Speer and 14th Street.
In 2015, the Denver Police Department recorded 315 calls for service along the Cherry Creek bike path. This year, it’s recorded 228. Denver Police made 44 drug-related arrests or citations in that area from January to May of 2015. It’s made 38 in the same time frame in 2016. In all of 2015 they made 158 drug arrests or citations there.
“You are not going to arrest your way out of a problem of this nature. So we are working closely with Parks and Rec, we are working closely with Denver’s Road Home and other agencies to figure out, how do we combat this problem? What is the genesis of this problem? How do we go after it?” Jackson said.
Right now, going after it means increasing bike patrols in the area to add to the undercover officers already working the trail on a regular basis. Jackson says homeless outreach officers have also been doing more work in the area to address the bigger problem.
“You can bet we are talking to everybody we can to address this issue. It’s not something that is falling on deaf ears. We are hearing the communities concerns, we are also taking them very seriously,” he said.
Amber Miller, the Communications Director for the Denver Mayor’s Office, shared this statement regarding the drug problem on the trail:
“The city is acutely aware of and concerned about illegal activities occurring along the creek. It is not acceptable and DPD has increased enforcement in the area to address it. In addition, we have homeless outreach and behavioral health experts working to connect those in need with services and parks and rec staff working to keep the area clean. This requires a multipronged approach in which we also must work with the state and federal partners within the judicial system.”