Aspen Police turn recovery of cocaine, cash into beginning of e-bike patrol fleet
The Aspen Police Department made a very specific funding request of the City Council last week to purchase three e-bikes and some cardiac resuscitation equipment: $22,650.
Why that figure? Well, it turns out that’s the amount recovered from a cocaine bust of a ski locker near the gondola.
Aspen Police responded to The Little Nell for a report of drugs and cash discovered in August 2020 when ski lockers were being removed for replacement. There were three lockers that management had to open since they were considered abandoned. One of the three locked lockers contained the contraband.
“APD received a call from the mountain manager for Aspen Ski Company. They opened the public lockers under the gondola, as per their normal procedures, and discovered 84 grams of cocaine with a street value of about $17,000 and $22,650 in cash,” Investigations Sgt. Rick Magnuson said.
Officers tried to obtain video from the area to identify the person who had placed the items in the locker room, but the video was not working. Local police sent the drugs to Colorado Bureau of Investigation for confirmation, and state investigators tried unsuccessfully to get fingerprints.
The upshot was no one claimed the money or drugs, naturally.
“So APD received approval to buy bikes with the money,” Magnuson said. “APD will destroy the cocaine and spend the money on bikes and bike gear for officers. The case is inactive, and the cocaine will be destroyed.”
Well, hold on
Councilman Ward Hauenstein questioned the price tag for the e-bikes while the council reviewed the request last week.
“I have three e-bikes at home,” he said. “Is $6,000 the going rate right now? I think that seems a bit much. My $1,200 e-bike has enough battery to get me up and back to Maroon Bells from downtown Aspen.”
Assistant Aspen Police Chief Linda Consuegra assured the City Council that there was an outside agency helping identify a quality brand that would serve the Police Department’s needs.
She said the police need reliability; the battery needs to hold a charge and to be able to respond to calls and to be able to make it through a full shift. The bikes also need to make it up and down some steep hills in town quickly. Possibly, Hauenstein’s personal e-bikes aren’t designed for that kind of response and emergency needs.
“Anything under $50K does not require our approval,” he said. “It’s approved in the budget to start with. When it comes time to spend it, it just has to be re-approved.”
With that the council approved the new e-bikes for the Police Department.
Later in the week, Magnuson was enthused about having the bikes in service by the end of May. The department bought the e-bikes from the Hub of Aspen, he said, which also will service the bike fleet.
“We are excited to get officers on bike patrol,” he said. “Chief Kim Ferber is an avid cyclist and a strong supporter of our bike patrol unit.”