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From the week of June 17, 2004

The Gang's All Here

Street smarts:Wow. I just finished reading Laura Bond's "Street Wise" article about Robert Duran in the June 3 issue of Westword. The story of this young man was incredible -- how he got out of his situation and is now working on his doctorate. It's one of the most inspirational stories I have heard in a long time.

Van Head
Denver

A class act:I wanted to compliment Laura Bond on the article she wrote on Robert Duran. I go to school with Robert at the University of Colorado, and I can honestly say he is the most intelligent, admirable and kind person I may ever have known. Thank you for so accurately capturing his character and the importance of his work.

Lori Peek
Boulder

Wed alert:If Robert Duran was truly concerned about the Chicano community, one would think that the first step that he would take would be to marry the mother of his two children, thereby providing a more stable and secure home life for at least two young Hispanics in this town.

Jay Bloomfield
Parker

Learn as you go:Great article by Laura Bond. I'm an educator, and I'm really impressed with what Robert Duran has been able to accomplish at such a relatively young age: leaving gangs, a family, doctoral work, etc.

Anthony E. Rodriguez
via the Internet

Numbers racket:If I correctly understood Laura Bond's article, Sergeant Lombard of the Denver Police Department Gang Bureau told the Denver Post in November that Denver had 17,000 gang members, an increase from the July 2003 total of 11,000. By February, DPD officials recanted and admitted that an estimated 9,000 was the accurate total. The DPD was only wrong 8,000 times. Although DPD Patrol Division Chief Cooper was questioned about the inflated 17,000 figure and admitted that some DPD personnel "tend to let their imaginations run wild when it comes to the number" of gang members in Denver, gang bureau Sergeant Padilla still firmly asserts "that there's a whole criteria that has to be met before young people's names are added" to the DPD gang list.

Bullshit.

News articles and city documents I have read over the past two years showed that gang estimates of 7,000 in November 2002 jumped to 11,000 in July 2003, then to 17,000 in November, then fell to 9,000 in February-- all during Padilla's reign at the gang bureau. And the best excuse the Boyz 'n Blue can come up with is that they have outmoded computer systems (which giving them more money will remedy). With enough loot, they'll eventually get it right. Trust them.

It is not comforting to know that the DPD had to chop the gang list in half in 1994 when its data was last subjected to scrutiny. If the gang bureau can't do basic math (and can't get its story straight), they shouldn't snivel when their data (or integrity) is questioned.

It is appalling when more than 90 percent of all gang members are reputed to be young people of color, then city officials admit that nearly half the data is false, no one in any official position can give any hard data, and yet police officials in the gang bureau go about rattling their tin cups and begging alms from the taxpayers and Denver City Council.

Trust them? Ni modo! No way!

Ernesto B. Vigil
Denver


Breeding Is Fundamental

The war against terrierism: Regarding Amy Haimerl's "Breed Between the Lines," in the June 10 issue:

I'm the owner of Buddy. We achieved notoriety when Denver wanted to kill our family's Staffordshire Bull Terrier for no other reason than being one. Thankfully, Debbie Stafford's legislation passed due to her hard work to educate the legislature on the real issue of irresponsible owners. We now have good legislation on the books that tackles the problem head-on. I hope that Denver follows suit.

Staffies are quite uncommon in the U.S., and the lack of knowledge of the breed has contributed to their being misunderstood. They are somewhat fearsome in appearance but hams at heart, and the facts speak for themselves.

Fact: In the U.K., the Staffie is one of the ten most popular breeds. They are known as the "nanny dog" and are one of only two dogs whose pronounced love of children is written into their breed standard.

Fact: There is no documented case of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier attacking a human in the U.S., much less killing one. The same cannot be said for countless breeds that have killed people. These include pomeranians, German shepherds, great Danes, St. Bernards, huskies, malamutes and various types of mixes.

Needless to say, I find Denver's breed ban in need of serious consideration as this plays out. I trust that our elected officials on the Denver City Council will use their intellectual capacity and collective energy to carefully and diligently review the legislation on their citizens' behalf. We need to deal with irresponsible owners of anytype of dog. A breed ban simply does not stop unsavory people from getting dogs of any breed to intimidate, hurt or be aggressive in any capacity. We still have 4,500 "pit bulls" (whatever that means) in Denver, and it's just a matter of time before one of "them" hurts somebody again. Meanwhile, German shepherds and many other breeds will continue to attack as well. Where has the breed ban left us? Have we solved anything?

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