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Park Patrons Already Noticing Difference After Extra Drug Enforcement

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver park users say they're already seeing a difference after police put out an extra effort to fight drug use in city parks and along bike paths.

Park users have asked the city to do something about the problem for years. Starting last week, anyone caught selling, buying or using drugs can be suspended from the park for 90 days.

"I've been running up here for about the last three years and it certainly seems different, that's for sure," said a jogger on the Cherry Creek Bike Path.

(credit: CBS)

On Friday the city began enforcing a sweeping measure to clean up drug traffic and use.

"I do think it's been a little bit disturbing in the last few weeks with some kind of young people acting a little bit aggressively on the bike path," said a bicyclist.

The ban order comes after more than 3,500 needles were collected out in the open in Denver parks just this year. The effort is trying to address a problem that has become a near permanent black eye for the city.

(credit: CBS)

Drug use in some of the city's parks like the Cherry Creek bike path and Commons Park has become so rampant many people avoid the areas all together.

Natalie Tuffield blogs about the state of Denver parks.

"At this time of day there would have normally had been dealers and things. So I think that's better, but it's obviously still -- if you look at the trash and debris," she said.

An admitted heroin user sleeping along the Cherry Creek bike path (credit: CBS)

The new program uses undercover law enforcement to spot people using drugs. They're banned from the park, but also given treatment options for addiction.

The ACLU has criticized the program.

Park users say they don't expect the cleanup to last forever.

"More intense efforts need to be made to help the problem at its root cause instead of just saying, 'We're picking up needles and its gone,'" Tuffield said.

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