Thursday, November 4, 2010

How Utilities helps police with marijuana investigations

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 1:22 PM


The role of Colorado Springs Utilities in nabbing potential illegal growers of marijuana is well-known. In both the Beacon Street arrests and the recent arrest of Dr. Kristine Hembre, among others, Utilities provided the police information showing unusually high usage rates.

But what role does the city-owned company play in these investigations? In general, the Colorado Open Records Act prevents CSU from releasing personal information to requesting parties, so what's the scope of its involvement?

Spokesman Dave Grossman writes in an e-mail response that a portion of the CORA act allows for the release of data to a police officer "acting within the scope of such officer's authority and in furtherance of such officer's duties, who makes a request to the custodian to inspect such records and who provides evidence satisfactory to the custodian that the inspection is reasonably related to such peace officer's authority and duty."

So what's considered satisfactory evidence?

"Investigators must provide identification and communicate that they have an investigation in progress," Grossman writes. "Because the investigations are criminal, we do not document the information they ask for as it pertains to specific accounts and/or persons."

He also noted that Utilities doesn't provide volumes of information to police to enable them to start an investigation based on utility data, because "that is outside the scope of what CORA allows."

Pam Zubeck contributed to this report.

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