12 April 2007

An Open Letter To Mayor Hickenlooper

Denver's best efforts to deal with abusive law enforcement personnel are disappointing, as illustrated by the recent case of Denver Officer Randall Krouse.

Offense: Applies a Taser to the neck of Kenneth Rodriguez of Tucson, Arizona after making a racially charged remark. "Understando Taser?" Krouse is heard saying to Rodriguez, who was uncooperative but not assaulting the officers in anyway.

Result: Suspended for 60 days.

When a primarily culpable, racist, violent bad cop who also lies in a criminal case producing a false conviction gets only a 60 day suspension, the police discipline system is deeply broken. This isn’t even plausibly a case of mere negligence.

With rogue officers like Randall Krouse on the force, and soon to be back on the streets, I don't feel safe.

It is bad enough to sometimes have to fear criminals. At least the system is out to get them. No kid with spray paint is ever going to shock me with a Taser and know that he can get away with it. But, it is far worse to have the system protect criminals in uniform.

Randall Krouse belongs in prison, not back on the streets of Denver as a cop in a couple of months. Have any criminal charges been brought against him? He is a menace to our city and he undermines the faith the ordinary citizens like me can have in the police force generally. How can I trust a police force that allows men like Randall Krouse to remain a part of it? How can I as a juror trust police officers who testify at trial if officers whose lies produce false convictions are kept on the force? You can’t have liars in a job that routinely requires court testimony. This punishment is the equivalent of giving an embezzler 60 days off work and then returning him or her to handling the petty cash fund.

It is also a matter of city finances. Civil rights laws allow municipalities to protect themselves from liability by throwing guys like Randall Krouse under a bus and making it absolutely clear that this kind of behavior isn’t tolerated. But, allowing a guy like him to get off with a slap on the wrist in the face of clear evidence virtually amounts to a policy of condoning his behavior as not great, but tolerable in small amounts.

Mayor Hickenlooper, what do you have to say about this travesty? Are you doing anything to crack down harder on bad cops in the Denver Police force? This kind of kid gloves treatment of bad cops caught red handed on videotape, who then lie about it, is not acceptable. If your hands are tied by comparable discipline rules and union agreements, you need to roll up your sleeves as you have with other problems in this city, and overcome those barriers.

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