Group calls Denver's new drug enforcement in parks unconstitutional

ACLU willing to take action toward park drug order
Posted at 7:49 PM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 21:49:06-04

DENVER -- Starting Friday, Denver police may ban anyone caught using or selling drugs in Denver’s parks or along the Cherry Creek Trail.

The initiative came from the director of Denver’s Parks and Recreation after citing an increased presence of drug use near the trail and around the city’s parks.

“I think Parks and Rec realizes that this is a situation that needs -- has needed to be addressed for a while now,” said John White with the Denver Police Department.

The directive will last for the next six months during an initial trial.

Police will now issue a 90-day ban at a park for anyone caught with drugs. If the person returns to the park where they’ve been banned from, they could face jail time or a $1,000 fine.

“I think it’s important for us as a law enforcement agency to be able to provide a safe area for our residents to enjoy our parks,” said White.

However, not everyone thinks the directive is the right approach.

“This is backwards,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU Colorado, “it’s punishment first, you have some opportunity to explain yourself later.”

He thinks the order is unconstitutional.

“It’s an end run around the bill of rights and it’s an end run around the due process clause,” he said.

While the ACLU have not received any complaints from anyone being banned yet, Silverstein believes they’ll have a case when they do.

“I can tell you this,” he said, “I think that this program is legally vulnerable. I don’t think that this punishment without due process would stand up in court,” he said.

Meanwhile, Denver police increased their patrols along the Cherry Creek Trail starting back in January.

White said between July and August they made some 128 drug related arrests.

“It’s been a big issue for us,” he said. 


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.