Colorado Springs police from the Sand Creek Division cleaned up trash on Saturday morning as part of an initiative to clean up crime.
CSPD assembled an impact team to focus on crime prevention in the Chelton and Fountain neighorhoods in Colorado Springs. The team met with apartment owners to brainstorm ways to lower crime in the area. The team used a grant to put a dumpster on Mazatlan Circle on Saturday to encourage people to get rid of trash and large items they couldn't afford to throw away at a dump themselves.
"It's an epicenter and it's always been an epicenter so that was the goal of our commander and our chief to figure out the worst place in the city which is right here at Chelton and Fountain," said Sgt. Roger Vargason, a member of the impact team.
There are crime statistics to back Vargason's statement. A 2012 crime statistics map pinpointed murders, assaults and robberies reported in Colorado Springs. The map illustrated the southeast side had a higher concentration of crime than other parts of the city.
Law enforcement walked around Mazatlan Circle picking up trash in the grass. Crews also carried couches and other pieces of furniture neighbors had left out for the dumpster. Some residents showed up with truck beds full of trash.
Officer Loren Zimmerman hoped picking up a little trash would go a long way for the neighborhood.
"Reduce the blight which in turn reduces the bad things that happen, the crime, just make it a little better place to live," said Zimmerman.
"We've been down here for over 20 years and we get it really clean and it comes right back to where it is today," said Vargason. "Hopefully, again, we can get it cleaned up and we can get it moving forward."
Jose Donate brought two truckloads of trash to the dumpster. He was thrilled to see police officers cleaning up the neighborhood and he said neighbors feel the same way.
"People for some reason, they're kind of hostile to police, but this gives them the opportunity to share and they're just like everybody else," said Donate.
Officers hoped the cleanup would make residents more prideful of their neighborhood and more likely to stop or report crime in the future. Vargason said while he doesn't live in the neighborhood, he takes pride in the streets he polices.
"We're also trying to get a hold of the owners of the properties and say, you know, 'this stairwell is unsafe, you need to fix the yards, you need to put fences up.' All of those things that you look at and if I had a child, I wouldn't want my child playing in some of those areas," said Vargason.
The team worked with utilities to get the street lamps fixed. Vargason said almost every light was out on the street because people shot the lamps or threw stones that broke the bulbs. Officers cleaning the neighborhood hope their actions sent a message to the neighborhood.
"That's the partnership here. It's not just the police department coming in here and arresting people. It's us working together to solve the problem," said Vargason.
The event finished at 1 p.m., however the dumpster will be picked up Monday so neighbors can continue cleaning through the weekend.
There are items banned from the dumpster. Those items are: refrigerators, ammunition, batteries, tires, mattresses and vehicle parts.