Taking a cigarette break in Monument could be tricky this fire season. Beginning last week, Monument is subject to fire restrictions imposed by El Paso County, which includes regulations on where people can smoke during stage 1 and 2 fire bans.

Monument’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously last week to grant El Paso County the authority to impose fire restrictions in Monument.

“This brings Monument and El Paso County under the same umbrella,” said Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.

Monument originally had its own set of regulations and could choose by vote to impose or suspend a fire ban. Police Chief Jacob Shirk said that Monument’s lengthy voting process for imposing a fire ban could jeopardize public safety by delaying fire restrictions necessary for protecting the community. Shirk was especially concerned that Monument didn’t restrict outdoors smoking during fire bans.

El Paso County’s regulations will apply to people smoking outdoors on their private property. Shirk said the Monument Police Department would use discretion depending on how safe someone is smoking. Someone smoking on their deck with an ash tray may get a warning, he explained, whereas someone flicking ashes into their yard could face harsher penalties.

Bumgarner said the majority of complaints concern people who throw cigarette butts out of their car windows or who smoke in dry, grassy areas. While fire bans do apply to private property, he said someone smoking safely on the back porch surrounded by rock or concrete is not as much of a threat.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Children from the Colorado Springs Conservatory sang the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month this April. Julie Krow, executive director of El Paso County Department of Human Services, said 105 more foster homes are needed in El Paso County.

“We want every child in El Paso County to grow up in a happy and healthy home,” Krow said.

This lack of foster homes in El Paso County means that children may be fostered in other parts of Colorado. She said separating children from their friends and family can be detrimental to their development.

“Our message this year is to bring El Paso County children home and back to El Paso County because we’re a great community,” she said. “We want kids from El Paso County to grow up in this community.”

Krow said her department received 16,455 reports of child abuse and neglect in El Paso County in 2018. The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 1-844-CO-4-KIDS.

Police Officer honored as Employee of the Month

Community Resource Officer Andrew Romano achieved employee of the month for planning and coordinating a two-day class that taught officers about providing sobriety tests to determine if drivers are impaired by drugs or alcohol. The class drew officers from Castle Rock Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Telluride Marshal’s Office.

“Due to Officer Romano’s hard work, the class was a complete success and has put Monument Police Department on the map as a regional training facility,” Chief Shirk said.

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