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Council hears citizen’s concerns on crime

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG— Residents at the Spanish Peaks Apartments are concerned about the increase in crime at the complex and want to know what Walsenburg police are doing about it.
Debbie Boccia, a resident at the Spanish Peaks Apartments, spoke with the city council last Tuesday during their regular meeting. She was concerned that many of the older residents of the apartments were feeling intimidated by the actions of several people around town.
“These people —and the police have got to know who they are— go around knocking on doors asking for money. They say they need to get gas to get a child or wife to the hospital. Or they need the money for food for their family,” Boccia said. “These people aren’t married and they don’t have a family. They’re just looking for drug money. And they know who to approach.”
Boccia has had her vehicle vandalized twice. She told the council and Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain that having her car vandalized won’t stop her from keeping an eye on the elderly residents in the complex.
She has interest in organizing a neighborhood watch and is actively looking for ways to engage the police and the district attorney’s office. “Many people and business owners I talked with say, good luck. They blame the police and the justice system for the problem. It seems that the criminals are out on parole and waiting for [parole] to end so they can go back to their old ways before anyone knows they’ve been arrested. I want to make it uncomfortable on these undesirable elements.” Boccia’s sentiments are echoed by many residents in Walsenburg.
Council member elect James Baca addressed the council saying that residents could call Crime Stoppers in Pueblo. They would keep the caller’s name out of the report and contact the Walsenburg Police Department with the information. Chief Chamberlain said that people needed to file a police report before anything can be done.
Housing Authority Board Chair Dave Mockmore said if a police report were filed, the housing authority would be able to evict the panhandlers. The city council spent nearly 30 minutes discussing the subject.
In other business the council passed Resolution 2011-R 31 on a 7-0 vote. The resolution allows the council to appropriate additional sums of money to defray expenses larger than amounts budgeted for the recently completed waste water treatment facility.
Part of the cost of the plant was budgeted for 2012 and needs to be moved back to the 2011 budget. The appropriation will increase the water-sewer fund by about $500,000, from $3,370,703 to $3,859,904.
The city is also looking for a new auditor. They have received bids from three firms and will make a decision about which firm to hire during the first council meeting in January.