car theft, CATPA, fatal police shooting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, crime, bait cars

Car theft task force gets into gunfight

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The group of officers and detectives in Colorado Springs who came under attack Monday were part of a multi-jurisdictional auto theft task force.

Vehicle owners in Colorado pay $1 per car every year through insurance. That generates about $5 million annually and that money, by law, goes to the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

For the past seven years, car thefts in Colorado have been going up.

To tackle the problem, the Colorado State Patrol has been overseeing dedicated, regional teams of car theft experts.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said just such a team of detectives, deputies and patrol officers were together on an operation when they were shot Monday.

Sheriff’s deputy Micah Flick was killed when a fleeing auto theft suspect pulled a semiautomatic handgun and fired multiple times.

"The group that was working this is a group that works together regularly, so it was, they were doing the job that they do day in and day out," Elder said.

"This was not an unusual event. It's not like it was a tactical call or anything."

About a year ago, CATPA executive director Robert Force talked about its mission, which is the same today.

"Most of our task forces deal with organized crime," Force said. "They don't deal with the individual one guy that's going out there stealing a car.

"They look at groups and associations of people. Again, without CATPA, those efforts would not go on.”

Budget records found CATPA spends money on all sorts of car theft prevention programs, including public service announcements reminding car owners to lock their doors, and extra training for law enforcement agencies across the state.

The branch that came under fire Monday was part of the Beat Auto Theft Through Law Enforcement.

It's primary goal is to catch the thieves and help a special prosecutor from the Attorney Generals' Office put them in prison.

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