Secrets to their success 

The knock-and-announce raid on Juanita McClinton's house was one of an unknown number that are executed every year in Colorado Springs.

According to Lt. Elden Stromer, the CSPD keeps no database or centralized record of no-knock and knock-and-announce search warrants that they obtain and execute each year. All warrants are centrally filed with the county and district courts, he said.

In addition, Stromer refused to identify the types of weapons that are employed by the CSPD during knock-and-announce and no-knock search warrants, including guns and explosive devices. Stromer maintains that such intelligence information is contrary to the public interest and, if identified, could endanger the lives or safety of law enforcement personnel.

Police also cannot identify the number of times that property owners have been verbally threatened that their properties will be seized under the city's new public nuisance ordinance, which was approved by the City Council on June 27.

Stromer said that, as of this date, police have taken no official enforcement actions or formally proceeded with seizure efforts under the new ordinance.

However -- at least in Juanita McClinton's case -- Colorado Springs police have, without proof, implied that drugs are being sold from her home and that the landowner's property could be seized if he doesn't evict her. Notably, though the public nuisance ordinance identifies prostitution, weapons violations, gang-related activity, fighting, drive-by crime and liquor law violations, the ordinance does not list illegal drugs as a potential nuisance under the new law.

At the urging of the police department, the City Council adopted the ordinance 7-1, with Councilman Ted Eastburn the lone opponent and Councilman Lionel Rivera absent.

Representatives from several groups, including the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, the Colorado Springs chapter of Residential Property Managers and the Southern Colorado Beverage Association strongly opposed the measure, arguing that police could unfairly target certain properties for seizure under the ordinance. They also argued that laws already in existence provide police the tools to crack down on properties that they believe pose a public nuisance or danger to the community.

Shortly before the council approved it, Colorado Springs lawyer Edward LeBarr said he was appalled by the ordinance, arguing that "it allows personal prejudices to dominate and be applied against individuals."

-- CD


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