More than bikes on the Cherry Creek path
Heroin use near campus
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 02:10
CU Denver benefits from its unorthodox downtown location and the myriad of local businesses that surround it; however, the location also lends itself to inner-city issues like drug use.
During the week of Oct. 7, The Denver Post published a three-part series about a young heroin addict, Angel Gamboeck (denverpost.com/HeroinInDenver). She was squatting on the Platte River, which runs along the Cherry Creek bike path.
The Post’s series revealed that there is a high frequency of heroin trafficking and heroin use along the bike path—one of the major veins of transit for students at Auraria.
Stephen Roberts, a Metro human performance and sport major, said he has firsthand experiences of heroin use on the Cherry Creek Trail. “On my morning ride in…I used to think it was just bums huddled together,” he said. “And then one morning I saw someone using a belt or something as tourniquet and shooting up. It freaked me out for a second.”
Roberts’ eyewitness account is not an isolated incident. Any given day, Auraria and Denver police officers can be seen cycling down the trail, looking for suspicious, drug-related activity and making arrests.
UCD finance major and mother of two Patricia Price said she avoids walking with her children down the trail. “I would never want my kids to be exposed to that,” she said.
According to The Post’s research, heroin is most commonly sold and doled out in balloons in $15 increments. Students jogging or biking through the trail may potentially be propositioned to purchase narcotics.
“The trail is a prime location for drug dealing, kind of,” said architecture and planning graduate student Rachel Saunders. “The Platte River and Cherry Creek Trail stretch extremely far and it’s sort of underground. Most passersby don’t give two thoughts about what’s happening below them. ”
The bike trail spans approximately 40 miles, traversing Cherry Creek and Douglas County. Saunders went on to explain that the trail is ill-lit at nighttime and the distance between its access routes hosts a myriad of windows for narcotics and money to exchange hands.
To help alleviate some of the danger associated with heroin and narcotics use, Denver has instituted harm reduction tactics such as the Needle Exchange and treatment referral programs that were established in 1997, according to denvergov.org.
Overseen by the Department of Health, needle exchange programs allow addicts to exchange their dirty needles for clean needles. The ideal long-term goal of these programs is to reduce the spread of disease caused by reusing dirty needles and give addicts referrals to start their road to recovery.
While the exact number of heroin-related arrests by Auraria police is not available, the campus crime blog (http://www.ahec.edu/campuspolice/crimeblog.htm) documents all of the accounts, in which the most recent dates back to July.