Off Limits

Overexposure: On the 15th Street side of the Denver Dry building, a dusty Waxman's window display showcases the city's Kids, Cops and Cameras program, started back in 1992 by Denver police officer Steve Rickard. Working in conjunction with the photo store and the Denver Housing Authority, Rickard, then a technician in the Denver Police Department's gang unit, distributed cameras to kids in DHA housing, who then documented the neighborhoods where they lived. The results were frequently stunning, each picture much more telling than the hundreds of laudatory words the program received in the local press. Those newspaper clippings, as well as a few of the photographs and assorted citations saluting Kids, Cops and Cameras--including a Denver City Council resolution dated August 31, 1992--are on display in the case, along with a note that says for more information, call Rickard at the DPD gang unit, or to see more photographs, visit a larger display on the third floor of City Hall.

Time for a little window white-washing.
Although the store's signs still say Waxman, the business is now owned by Wolf Camera. And the Kids, Cops and Cameras show at City Hall is long gone; in February, Mayor Wellington and First Lady Wilma Webb dedicated a new permanent exhibit in that space: "Gallery of Denver's Mayors," complete with portraits of the city's 38 mayors--everyone from "Yes I'll Complete This Third Term" Webb to 1859's John C. Moore. (Brass plaques detailing each mayor's accomplishments, such as they are, are still pending.)

The real development, though, involves cameraman cop Rickard. After 29 years on the force, Rickard resigned last month--shortly after he was arrested on charges of third-degree sexual assault, forgery and official misconduct. Apparently he took his photography hobby a little too seriously: Assigned to supervise a nineteen-year-old female miscreant from Arapahoe County who reported to the gang unit for her community-service commitment, Rickard reportedly offered to trim a few hours off her work if she'd pose in a swimsuit for his camera. Which she did, whereupon he pulled down the bottom of the suit and fondled her. Allegedly.

Not surprisingly, Rickard's unseemly exit leaves Kids, Cops and Cameras in a state of arrested development. According to DPD spokeswoman Mary Thomas, the program is now on hold, since Rickard was the one who ran it, and "no one else has the information and insight."

Or the same special relationship with a camera...and with kids.

More snap judgments: The cameras sure love Jefferson County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Davis, who's spent a lot of time before them since the Columbine shootings, his skin getting tanner and his hair more stylish by the second. And while Jeffco may not want to play post office for Eric Harris's parents, refusing to deliver Kathy Harris's letters to the families of her son's thirteen victims, it has no problem making some very special deliveries to Davis.

An unexpected side effect of all the national coverage, he recently confided to local reporters, has been a flurry of mash notes--including marriage proposals--from female fans around the country.

Rock 'n' roll high school: Was it 300 high school students at Monday's MTV-sponsored forum on youth violence, as the Post estimated, or merely 200, the number reported in the Rocky Mountain News? Since the Post was one of three co-sponsors, it's no surprise that the paper might have been inclined to take a rosy, inflated view of the proceedings inside Littleton's Ascot Event Center.

But some teens had a hard time convincing themselves they weren't participating in an episode of The Real World.

The forum began with a screening of Warning Signs, an MTV documentary that followed the story of a school shooting (not Columbine), where a very pretty and hip interviewer, backed by an excellent soundtrack, provoked emotional testimony from "real people" in "real-life situations." When the teens reflected on what had been an indication that one of their peers was preparing to go on a violent rampage, a graphic (looking suspiciously like the balloons on VH1's Pop Up Video) with the words "Warning Sign" blurped onto the screen. Gee, would those warning signs include arrest records, Web sites threatening to kill people and English papers about love affairs between guns and bullets?

Panelists eagerly grabbed the mike to respond to student comments, many of which were earnest and emotional, but the afternoon's biggest applause came when one student, in a comment Beavis and Butt-head would be proud of, remarked on how the NRA has Washington's "nuts on a string." Heh heh, he said nuts.

That won't come as news to another group of kids, who flew to Washington last week to lobby for tougher gun-control laws and to visit several members of Colorado's congressional delegation, including Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

Campbell likes to point out that he is "a rubber stamp for no one," and he made that point again while defending his position on guns to the 95 students from three colleges and 31 high schools in Colorado and Wyoming, including Columbine. The senator, who still cultivates his outsider image despite his many years on the inside, told the crusading students he opposes tougher gun laws because they would create an illegal black market for gun sales.

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