The Home Front: A rough day for law enforcement on the newspaper front pages in Colorado

The Home Front: A rough day for law enforcement on the newspaper front pages in Colorado

A Loveland police sergeant charged with assault. A state investigation into a sheriff’s detective in Fremont. A probe into the Denver police department’s number two officer. And a “culture of violence,” at Colorado’s juvenile detention centers. These four stories made the front page of newspapers up and down the Front Range Friday.

“Loveland Police Department Sgt. Justin Chase has been charged with misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault and harassment tied to his arrest of an individual in November,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “District Attorney Cliff Riedel said a grand jury returned indictments against Chase on Wednesday for Class 1 misdemeanor assault and Class 3 misdemeanor harassment. Details of the supposed problematic arrest were unavailable because the arrestee has been named as a witness in the court case against Chase, Riedel said.”

In Cañon City, an investigation surrounding a Fremont County Sheriff’s Office detective “now has bled into other cases,” The Daily Record reports. “Devlin Palaza, 43, appeared in court Thursday for a pre-trial conference where an investigation by Colorado Bureau of Investigations of FCSO Detective Robert Dodd was discussed. … CBI is investigating Dodd after evidence from a 2006 homicide was discovered in his personal storage unit by Rick Ratzlaff of Cañon City after he purchased it in an auction in December.”

“The city of Denver on Thursday ordered an independent investigation into the police department’s second-in-command for his handling of an internal-affairs case and his response to an open-records request, the Department of Safety announced,” reports The Denver Post. “The investigation comes after questions were raised by the police union and local media about the actions of Deputy Police Chief Matt Murray, who is in charge of the department’s administration and serves as chief of staff. In a statement, Stephanie O’Malley, the safety department’s executive director, said: ‘As Executive Director of Safety, it is my duty to provide civilian oversight to the Denver Police Department. As such, I have decided to initiate an outside, third-party investigation into this matter to ensure transparency and accountability.’ Independent Monitor Nick Mitchell will work with the third-party investigator, who has not been selected, the statement said.”

“Restraining adolescent offenders with shackles and full-body straitjackets, putting youth in isolation and striking their knees, thighs, buttocks and ribs has created ‘a culture of violence’ at Colorado’s juvenile detention centers that has reached a crisis level, according to a report released Thursday by the Colorado Child Safety Coalition,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The group is calling for the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections to stop punitive physical practices and instead use a therapeutic approach to rehabilitating adolescents who have had run-ins with the law. ‘We wrote this report to speak for the children and make clear that outside help is needed now,’ said Rebecca Wallace, an American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado staff attorney and one of the principal authors of the report.”

The Greeley Tribune reports on the thorny nature of immigration law. “In the wake of President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order condemning ‘sanctuary jurisdictions,’ a slew of questions arose about whether local or federal government is responsible for enforcing immigration law, and how those two entities work together. Garner and Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said their departments do not treat illegal immigrants different from any other person they encounter on a daily basis. Garner said his officers don’t ask suspects if they are legal citizens, and Reams, whose deputies run the Weld County Jail, said his office does not screen inmates to weed out illegal immigrants. ‘There’s been nothing from the Trump administration that changes how we do business,’ Reams said.”

“A small, privately held Grand Junction company is now part of a global manufacturing-services corporation that sought out the smaller company for its expertise,’ The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports. ‘Jabil Circuit Inc., NYSE: JBL, completed the asset purchase of Lewis Engineering on Wednesday in a transaction that Bill Frake, Jabil vice president for the defense and aerospace group, said will recognize the Grand Junction office at 2790 H Road as a global ‘center for excellence” for complex machining and related services. While there are custom machining sites scattered around the United States and, to a lesser extent, the world, “very few of them are as good as Lewis,’ said Mark Fratoni, director of business development for defense and aerospace for St. Petersburg, Florida-based Jabil.”

The Longmont Times-Call reports on colored lights in the night sky some thought might be UFOs. “At twilight on Saturday, about 15 glowing paper lanterns were sent into the sky over Longmont as a memorial to two men killed in a DUI-related car crash exactly five years earlier, on Feb. 25, 2012. But the floating memorial left a handful of people in Longmont perplexed by the sight of mysterious lights, evoking thoughts of spaceships, UFOs and other extraterrestrial activities. Advertisement “I thought I was hallucinating or something,” said Joyce Brooks, one of three Longmont residents who told the Times-Call they’d seen the objects.”

“The Dandelion Market, Carbondale’s food co-op, is searching for a new home after news that its lease won’t be renewed, and at the same time it faces calls to reorganize amid revelations that the organization is again deep in the red,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Bills went unpaid for the fourth quarter of 2016, and the co-op’s books are under review. If the co-op can’t find a home by July 1, it may have to become a buyer’s club as it was in the beginning, said Katrina Byars, who became the co-op’s general manager at the start of last summer.”

“Marijuana grow facilities near Three Springs have the Durango City Council rethinking a ban on the operations within city limits,” reports The Durango Herald. “Councilors previously decided grow facilities were not appropriate within the city, in part because of their water consumption. But operations on the edge of town present a concern because the city can’t prevent them, but the city plans to possibly annex that area in the future. If the city isn’t proactive on the issue, the facilities could become La Plata County islands – without sidewalks, curbs, gutters, trees along streets or city services such as snow removal and police, City Manager Ron LeBlanc recently told the council.”

“In the three months leading up to Feb. 14, 2012, Organic Alternatives medical marijuana dispensary owner Steve Ackerman sold off as much of his inventory as he could and destroyed what he could not,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “That included both the marijuana plants he had growing and the products on his shelves. He knew that, come February, the police would be at the door of his Fort Collins shop — and every other dispensary in town — to make sure he closed his doors for good. Just a few months prior, Fort Collins voters banned medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within city limits. ‘We basically just sold out of everything,’ he said. “We had to destroy it.'”

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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