Headlines — February 16, 2023

February 16, 2023

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    Headlines — February 16, 2023 Stacie Johnson

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Ex-Loveland Cop Denied Early Release From Prison

A Weld County community corrections board Wednesday denied a request for an early prison release for an ex-Loveland police officer convicted of injuring an elderly woman with dementia during a violent arrest. During the 2020 arrest of Karen Garner, then-officer Austin Hopp broke her arm, separated her shoulder, and sprained her wrist while also not giving her medical attention while he and others joked about her injuries. Hopp so far has served nine months of his five-year prison term.

According to CBS Colorado, a community corrections representative advocated for Hopp’s release, citing that he needed therapy for mental issues, is a prime candidate, and that he could gain employment outside of law enforcement while on work release or at a halfway house. 

Garner’s family attended Wednesday’s hearing and expressed dismay and shock that Hopp could receive an early release, especially after taking a plea deal that shortened his possible time in prison.

Colorado Springs Crisis Response Team Facing Excessive Force Allegations 

Body camera footage released Wednesday by civil rights attorneys shows interactions between an unarmed man who died while members of a Colorado Springs crisis response team handcuffed and held him to the ground. The crisis response team that went to the home of 63-year-old Kevin Dizmang on Nov. 15 included a police officer, paramedic, and a mental health professional. According to the Denver Post, the team responded to a call about a man experiencing a mental health crisis and proceeded to physically restrain him. 

The El Paso County Coroner’s office ruled Dizmang’s death a homicide with the physical restraint contributing to his death. The coroner also determined that Dizmang experienced a heart attack while restrained and had methamphetamine intoxication, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other health conditions.

Soon after Dizmang’s death, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident with the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office, determining that the responders were justified in their use of force and that the office would not file criminal charges. Attorney Harry Daniels told the Denver Post that Dizmang’s family wants justice and that they hope local authorities will hold the paramedic and police officer accountable for Dizmang’s death.

The Colorado Springs Police Department and Fire Department released a joint statement Wednesday saying that even with all the training and expertise of the Community Response Team, responders cannot control every factor such as the actions, underlying medical conditions, and intoxication of the individual prior to the team’s involvement.

The Colorado Springs Police Department is facing other excessive force allegations, including one from a 29-year-old Black man who says officers beat him during a 2022 traffic stop and another from a teenage girl arrested in 2020.

Lead Testing Prompts Water Fixture Shutoff For Four Poudre School District Elementary Schools 

This week, four elementary schools within the Poudre School District shut off water fixtures following state-mandated testing for high lead levels in their drinking water. Five water fixtures at Putnam Elementary School and two at both Bennett and Irish elementary schools were shut off as of 2:00 PM Wednesday after samples analyzed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or CDPHE, found five parts per billion of lead in the water.  In a press release, the CDPHE said “it is essential to reduce the risk for children as much as possible. Lead builds up in the body over time, and ongoing exposure, even at low levels, may eventually cause harmful effects.”

In January, samples from Polaris Expeditionary School, another PSD school, also had worrisome lead levels. Poudre School District chief communications officer Madeline Noblett told the Coloradoan that remediation for the lead levels might include “a replacement of a fixture, installation of some sort of filter or filtration system, or it could be replacing a pipe or portion of pipes in a designated area.”

A 2022 state law requires nearly all public schools in Colorado to test their drinking water for lead by May this year. 

Median Home Pricing Flattening Statewide While Some Regions See Prices Increase

January data from the Colorado Association of Realtors is showing that the Colorado housing boom has slowed down. While median homes in Denver increased close to three percent, in the surrounding seven county Denver metro region, overall home prices dipped close to two percent since January 2022. While prices continued to rise in Larimer County close to seven percent, compared to last year they stayed on the market for about two weeks longer. 

Amid Selection Of Three Candidates, Boulder Continues Search For New Independent Police Monitor

Boulder says it will continue its search for a new independent police monitor. The City of Boulder announced Wednesday that the three finalist candidates chosen for the independent monitor position did not possess the skills required. 

The independent police monitor works with Boulder’s Police Oversight Panel and the city manager’s office to support transparency, accountability, community engagement, and best practices within policing. Boulder created the monitor role in 2020 after a police officer confronted a Black Naropa University student, as he picked up trash outside his home. The officer, John Smyly, was found in violation of department policies and later resigned. 

Until the role is filled, Flo Finkle with the Office of Independent Review will be the interim independent police monitor. The role has been vacant since September, when Independent Police Monitor, Joey Lipari resigned.

Neguse Announces Three Communities In CD2 Will Receive Safer Roadway Funding Through Infrastructure Law 

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse announced Wednesday that the Town of Silverthorne and the counties of Boulder and Larimer will receive funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law aimed at helping communities create safer roadways, reducing traffic fatalities, and serious injuries. The funding is part of the Transportation Department’s Safe Streets For All discretionary program. Boulder County’s allocation of just under $500,000 will go to the county’s Vision Zero Action Plan.

Boulder City Council To Hear Proposal For Middle Income Housing Units Near 28th And Jay Road

Boulder City Council will hold a public hearing this evening on a housing development proposal for the northeast corner of 28th Street and Jay Road. The plan would create 34 permanent affordable and 50 market-rate units of duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes. 

According to the Boulder Housing Network, the city’s planning board gave the project mixed reviews in December because housing and planning staff disagreed over density. The city’s housing department staff are urging the developer to maximize the number of affordable units on the site, while planning staff are advocating for lower density to match the housing in nearby rural and single-family subdivisions. 

The plan is part of Boulder’s 2016 Middle Income Housing Strategy, which sought to create middle-income, permanently affordable housing in the area.

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    Headlines — February 16, 2023 Stacie Johnson

Stacie Johnson

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