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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Monday, July 26, 2004

The Denver Police fails to turn over complaints to PSRC, suprise, suprise

The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that the Denver Police Department failed to forward 450 citizen complaints, against the Denver Police, to the Public Safety Review Commission, beginning in 2002.
That means the Public Safety Review Commission had no opportunity to follow up with people who lodged those complaints to see if they were satisfied with the department's resolution of the complaints.

It also underscores the frustration expressed by panel members who say they're often overlooked and deprived of tools to provide meaningful oversight.

"This has meant a lot of additional work for us," said Roxane Baca, chairwoman of the commission. "I think the impact is still unknown, but it might be that the public may think we are not being very effective."

It comes as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper prepares to announce a new, stronger system of citizen oversight for the 1,400-officer department, one of a number of reforms announced in response to a controversial police shooting last year.

Commission members will now send the letters to residents and say they may write a letter of complaint to Hickenlooper about the delay. full article

To Hickenloopers credit, he did apologize to the Lobato Family at last Tuesday's community meeting. City officials also attended Frank Lobato's funeral this weekend which also is a departure from the stonewalling by past city administrations. Whether their compassion as individuals translated into systemic change remains to be seen.
Denver focuses too much of its attention on training young men to kill and not enough on teaching them to preserve life, said Tink Tinker of the Osage Nation.

"That's the systemic hole we need to change," Tinker said. "The political system had better pay attention."

Several city leaders, including Manager of Safety Al LaCabe and Councilwoman Rosemary Rodriguez, attended the service, which was paid for with city funds at Funeraria Latina in west Denver.

"I'm fulfilling my commitment to the family to find out what happened," Rodriquez said after the funeral. full article

Some City Council Members seem to have mustered the resolve to challenge the power of the Police Protective Association(PPA) which is also a welcome change. The PPA has managed to intimidate city officials and influence city policy to the detriment of the Denver citizens. Their control over the city may be slowly eroding with each outrage committed by officers. That so many citizens have lost, and will lose, their lives to bring about a gradual change is a shame.

Making the Denver Police Department accountable is no small feat. In addition to it's entrenched position in determing city policy, they are aided by Denver's so called "liberal media." To get a sense, read this column by the Rocky Mountain News columnist, Tina Griego. She begins with an account of last Tuesday's community meeting, stating
Two community meetings were held last week to protest the police killing of Frank Lobato, known by officers as "the wrong guy," and by nearly everyone else as the invalid holding a soda can.

Anger abounded. At one packed meeting, calls for revolution mixed with pleas for calm. Praise for the mayor competed with curses flung at such volume and force that you could almost see them, like line drives of venom. The American Indian Movement's Glenn Morris raised the specter of "civil unrest" should the police, once again, needlessly shoot and kill a minority. The "5,000 pound elephant in the room," he called it.

"Anytime something like this happens in our community, we are all diminished by it," he said, in what may have been the most eloquent comments I heard on the matter all last week. full article

From here, she goes on to relate her emotions at a protest held the next day in which she was scared away by Leroy Lemos and his characterization of the Denver Police as "domestic terrorists."
According to Griego,shooting people somehow becomes less of an act of terror than what Leroy is doing; that is, describing the level of fear the Denver Cops sow in communities of color. Somehow, Leroy with a megaphone is more of a menace to society than Ranjan Ford with a badge and a 9 millimeter.

Griego goes on to list some of the calls that Denver Police responded to within the range of 3 hours that resulted in no shootings. She notes that some of those calls came from "minority neighborhoods" and then concludes that minority people must not fear the cops if they are calling them. She ends by asking, whom is terrorizing whom?

What she doesn't ask is why no calls from Cherry Hills, Highlands Ranch,(affluent, white citiznes do commit acts of domestic abuse as well) or her Neighborhood ever result in a shooting at the hands of a cop. As we heard at the meeting on last Tuesday, people like Tina Griego don't get it because they know a cop will not be arriving at their house, using a ladder to climb in their windows and shooting them while they are in their own rooms.

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