The Colorado State Patrol will soon have authority to enforce a camping ban in Denver as Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said earlier this week that he would welcome the removal of those living on state property.
Denver Department of Safety Director Murphy Robinson signed an order Thursday allowing state troopers to enforce municipal codes through Oct. 22, meaning troopers can now write tickets to people violating city ordinances, The Denver Post reported.
Troopers will also be allowed to remove illegal encampments near the state Capitol.
Previously, state troopers had authority over state property, but had to work with police department to issue citations. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Kelli Christensen said now they are able to do so on their own.
The move came as the city is working to establish its first sanctioned encampment, estimated to hold 60 people, and allow officials to more aggressively enforce the camping ban, Mayor Michael Hancock said.
“The intention is for these encampments to come down, and they will,” mayor's spokesman Mike Strott said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has recommended cities avoid breaking up illegal encampments during the coronavirus pandemic unless there is a safe place for those living on the streets to go to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Many people living in Lincoln Park have said they do not want to sleep in tents downtown but argued they have nowhere else to go.
“Put yourselves in our position, consider everything we go through on a daily basis,” said Sherika Oge, who has been camping in the area for about six weeks. “It may look like we all hang out and party all day, but this has become somewhat of a foundation for us."
It is unclear when officials are expected to take action.