El Paso County covers 2,130 square miles of Colorado, and the EPC sheriff’s office is responsible for investigating the majority of felony crimes against people and property in the unincorporated portions of the county, including Falcon. Jacqueline Kirby, media relations manager for the EPCSO, said community cooperation is an integral part of solving many of those crimes.|
The Community Video Partnership program is one way the community can help, and the EPCSO’s website states that video evidence is one of the best methods for apprehending criminals.
“It is an extremely helpful tool in real-time, and we get the physical description of the person,” Kirby said.“If multiple crimes are committed by the same person, we can compare those images and not just the descriptions.”
The program works on a voluntary basis with community members registering their camera or cameras, although registration is not required to submit a video to the EPCSO, she said. Because the department does not have a way to track which crimes have been solved with the help of registered cameras and those solved with the help of videos submitted by unregistered cameras, it is hard to quantify the efficacy of the program, Kirby said. However, submitting a video to the EPCSO is the only way to ensure the crime can be investigated, she said.
Often people will post a video to a social media site, but the EPCSO does not have enough resources to spend time searching for the videos and then investigate them, Kirby said. Additionally, there is no way to track whether crimes are connected, unless multiple videos from registered cameras are submitted, she said.
“When people post on social media (and do not submit their video to the sheriff’s office), it can create a false narrative,” Kirby said. “Until the crime is investigated, what is originally reported is, most of the time, different in pieces or in totality of what actually happened. Letting us have that information allows us to investigate it.”
Recently, the EPCSO was able to use security footage as a piece of the overall investigation into the disappearance of 11-year-old Gannon Stauch on Jan. 27, she said. Although this footage was just part of the larger investigation into Gannon’s disappearance, other similar surveillance footage can be key to making an arrest in another crime or provide additional clarity to what the EPCSO already has gathered from their investigation, Kirby said.
“We do have dedicated personnel in Falcon,” she said. “That was made a priority by Sheriff Elder when we saw exponential growth in crime in that area. But, if people are concerned about crime in their area and we do not get that information to investigate it and apprehend the suspect, it does no good to post it on Facebook. It can have the opposite effect by inciting fear and panic.”
Viable information from a video of a crime in a particular neighborhood allows the department to investigate the crime, and the EPCSO crime analyst can use that footage to see if there are other crimes in the area, Kirby said.
“It is a two-fold benefit,” she said. “We can investigate that particular crime, but we can also look for connections and patterns.”
While any video footage is better than no footage, it is difficult to track how well the system is working without having the camera registered with the EPCSO, Kirby said.
According to the EPCSO’s website, registration requires contact information and basic information about the location, direction and recording quality of the camera. Registration is free and information provided is kept confidential, the website states.
“The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will have no direct access to any private video systems through the Community Video Partnership program and must ask the owner to view or make a copy of any footage,” the website states.
Ultimately, Kirby said the system is not a “Big Brother” type of monitoring system.
“It is a partnership with the sheriff’s office to work with the community to make the community safer,” she said.
| || ||
On Oct. 4, 2019, Element Engineering LLC submitted a letter of intent to the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department on behalf of Jim and Delia Ozburn, co-owners of the Falcon Meadow RV Campground, for a lift station and submersible pumps to convey wastewater to the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District collection system. However, Dave Ozburn said the process to obtain the hookup has been going on for about two years, with no definitive end in sight.
Campground still waiting for wastewater hookup
Dealing with COVID-19 makes it worse
By Lindsey Harrison
“We have been trying to get it done for two years,” he said. “We are waiting on an easement right now. I know the state has approved the plans, pending the easement approval; and then we have to get on the schedule with the contractors. It is pretty major work.”
The project will transition the campground’s leach field to the WHMD wastewater system via the lift station and about 1,600 feet of buried pressure pipe, according to the construction plans submitted to the county.
With the spread of the new coronavirus, Ozburn said he has no idea how much longer the process will drag on, which is not good.
“The leach fields are at the end of their lives,” he said.
The campground has 55 total sites, some of which are occupied by long-term renters, Ozburn said. He was unsure of the exact number, although he said the demand for long-term rental space is high right now. Usually, the campground lowers the number of available long-term rental spaces this time of year to make space for tourists, but it is unclear how COVID-19 will affect tourism, he said.
“We are considered an essential business because we are a fueling station,” Ozburn said. That means both campground and the adjacent Falcon Food Store will remain open, he said.
Because propane is one of the main services the Falcon Meadow campground provides, Ozburn said the goal is to continue to provide that service during normal business hours, but if that has to change, he said a sign will be posted to alert customers as to when propane will be available.
“Being that it is a family business and we have been here for 60 years, we are in a good position to weather this situation,” he said.