In 2016, the Denver Parks Department issued Temporary Directive 2016-1, which purported to authorize police to summarily banish people from city parks, with no hearing, conviction, or other due process, based on mere suspicion of illegal drug activity.  Although the Temporary Directive was set to expire in six months, the Parks Director stated it might remain in place as a permanent rule.

The program gives police officers unilateral authority to ban persons suspected of “illegal drug activity” from city parks.  According to the Directive, a person “need not be charged, tried or convicted of any crime, infraction, or administrative citation” for a suspension notice to be issued or effective. A ban lasts for 90 days and re-entry is punishable by up to a year in jail.

The ACLU conducted a review of suspension notices issued pursuant to the Temporary Directive.  In a detailed letter to city officials, the ACLU demanded that Denver suspend enforcement of the Directive, revoke any suspension notices currently in effect, and abandon any efforts to make the banishment program permanent.

The ACLU also provided legal defense to Troy Holm, who was expelled from a city park and then prosecuted for criminal trespass when he returned to the park.  The Denver County Court held that the Temporary Directive was unconstitutional and dismissed the prosecution.  Denver appealed.  The Denver District Court agreed that the Temporary Directive was unconstitutional, and it affirmed dismissal of the prosecution of Mr. Holm.    The Parks Department declined to turn the Temporary Directive into a permanent rule.

ACLU Press Releases



Adam Frank; Faisal Salahuddin; Rebecca Wallace; Mark Silverstein

Case number

2016-12, 2017CV31066,