By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
In October 2007, pregnant again and sick of running, Audrey turned herself in on the larceny charge, then used $600 of the money she'd made selling drugs to post bond. The following April, another daughter was born — with meth in her system. When social services immediately took the baby away, Audrey wasted no time making a break. Since she'd missed a court date, there was another warrant out for her arrest — and she didn't want to be caught by the police in the maternity ward.
Once again, she turned herself in and used drug money to post bond; once again, she skipped out on a court date. Eventually her bondsman found Audrey in Sedalia, and she was thrown in Adams County Jail. While there, she had some unusual visitors: Narcotics officers who'd heard about Audrey's relationship with the Mexican dope dealers wanted her to act as an informant. "What do I have to do?" she remembers asking them. "I want my kids back, and I don't want to be high anymore."
But when Audrey got out after two weeks in jail, the narcs didn't seem to care about her kicking the habit; they just wanted the Mexican cartel. So she kept smoking meth and eventually moved in with her sister — who quit her job and started working for the Mexicans, too. The sisters started moving guns as well as drugs: .38 snub noses with laser sights, SKS rifles and AK-47s.
Audrey was working with the cops on complicated stings, posing as a heroin buyer and wearing a wire to drug deals that law enforcement was monitoring. But at the same time, she and Katie were stealing money and drugs from other meth users and sometimes from each other. They spent tens of thousands of dollars to help local dealers who'd been busted, retaining some of the best-known defense lawyers in Denver and bribing potential witnesses to keep quiet. When Katie was arrested for kicking in the door of her longtime boyfriend's house to retrieve some belongings and charged with domestic violence, she used $6,000 in drug money to bond herself out.
"I just became lost," says Katie. "I'd sit in the apartment, smoke a bowl and just get lost in space. I was so depressed, because I knew my mom would be so disappointed in me. It wasn't supposed to be that way." The sisters smoked constantly, staying up for days at a time and throwing themselves at surreal improvement projects they were too scatterbrained to complete — bookshelves that were never quite finished, decor items cobbled together from junk scrounged from dumpsters. Dope money overflowed from their vacuum-cleaner bag, a poor excuse for a hiding place; pipe burns scarred their towels and bedspreads.
Through it all, their phone rang constantly, day and night. Sometimes it was a meth head like their dad looking to buy, sometimes it was a narc needling them for information, sometimes it was the Mexican cartel, wanting to know why they were falling behind in payments.
Katie, bone-thin, picked at her face until it was covered in scabs; Audrey plucked her eyebrows out. Often the sisters would cry together as they fired up a pipe, wondering how it would all end.
Just before Christmas 2008, Audrey visited her probation officer high as a kite and hiding a sack of meth in her bra. Then she learned she was being assigned to JI-DEF.
Sergeant Steve Addison had noticed the announcement in the DPD's daily bulletin in late 2007. The department was looking for officers to mentor drug addicts, folks who were at the end of the line in the criminal justice system. Working as Law Enforcement Advocates, or LEAs, with JI-DEF, the cops would take several clients under their wing at a time, putting in eight hours a week for much lower pay than most off-duty gigs offered — and that didn't count the additional legwork that wouldn't pay at all.
To Addison, it sounded perfect. "It was like this little gift. It just really fit," he says.
"I've always been a 'what's the next thing' kind of person," Addison explains. A few years before, while he was working in the department's radio room, a supervisor had suggested that radio operators might appreciate the chance to get some exercise; Addison wrangled up so much exercise equipment that the place looked like a 24 Hour Fitness. In his off-hours, he'd earned his master's degree in public affairs, and he'd just started a coaching certification program at the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara. Over the next nine months, Addison spent his vacation time traveling to California and sitting in seminars alongside Fortune 500 CEOs and corporate consultants. As the DPD's coordinator for officer training and recruitment, he believed the right coaching skills might reduce the double-than-average suicide rate among cops.
But Addison, who'd previously served on the city's gang unit and, before that, been a patrolman in Five Points and Curtis Park, also wanted to tackle another challenge: He didn't want to just help cops, he wanted to connect on a meaningful level with the people he encountered as a cop. "Often the only time police get to interact with parents and kids in those settings is when they show up on a call for domestic violence or a drug call," he says. "You don't realize the impact that has sometimes. You try to talk to kids, be a positive influence, try to say, 'Standing out here on the corner and selling crack isn't going to lead you to anything,' but it's hard to have that sort of relationship with them."