By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
JI-DEF could change that, he thought. "It seemed like a way to be with these addicts longer than, 'Hi, how are you doing, I hope you get better,' and then boom, walk out the door," he says. "It seemed like the type of thing that could really make a difference."
Not everyone had seen the program's promise when Rajaee-Moore and Cooper started in 2004 with two police mentors. The grandmother of one of the initial clients threw a fit when she heard that a cop would be stopping by the family's house in northeast Denver, a home just down the street from where Paul Childs had been killed. After Rajaee-Moore did some damage control, the woman relented — on the condition that the mentor meet the family pastor at the house and stay for dinner.
From that rocky start, the program blossomed, with more cops applying to be LEAs than there were positions. Today, fourteen LEAs are divided into four teams supervised by Addison.
The officers all report that they have more job satisfaction, and Addison's workday has improved, too. At in-home meetings, clients' kids no longer hide behind their parents' legs when he comes to the door; instead, they want him to stay and play. "My cop" — that's what his clients call him. Even hardened criminals in the program call their cop at all hours just to check in, and if they screw up and have to be taken to jail, they insist that their cop be the one to take them in.
"It's made me realize how normal these people are when you take away the fact that they'd caught a felony and had used drugs most of their lives," Addison says. "It's made me realize they are all just normal people."
Even the most hardened cases, like the sisters he was assigned to in early 2009.
At first, Audrey fought JI-DEF every step of the way. So did Katie, who was assigned to the program after she went to jail in January 2009 for missing a court date on her domestic-violence charge.
They fumed when Rajaee-Moore and Jennifer Corvalan, the TASC specialist on their case, came to their apartment and took their meth pipes. They shrieked when Corvalan, who coordinated TASC's meth-prevention program and seemed to have a sixth sense for when her clients were about to relapse, would seek them out at friends' houses or the 24-hour laundromat downtown where they'd crash when they had nowhere else to go. "You guys are so fucking annoying," the sisters screamed.
But that was the point. "We are persistent," Rajaee-Moore says. "That's part of the program."
While many JI-DEF clients were put off by being paired with a cop, Audrey and Katie took that in stride, at least at first. Both had been dealing with the police for years, either as offenders or informants. On the day they met Addison, they asked their LEA to retrieve the belongings they'd been keeping at their father's house — the ones he hadn't already sold off for drugs. Addison told the man to leave his daughters alone, then took the sisters to McDonald's, where they blew through the $25 certificate they'd been given at TASC.
Soon enough, though, Audrey and Katie were screaming at Addison, too. They'd yell at him when he'd stop by for surprise visits, telling the cop he wasn't a mentor, just a guy who made things worse. Since they were still smoking meth, the sisters guzzled mouthwash to throw off the mouth swabs Addison used to test for drug residue. To beat their urinalysis tests, they bought clean pee from local head shops for $25 a pop.
And then, a month after she started the program, Audrey dismantled the GPS tracking device she was required to wear and once again was on the run. To find her, Addison sent patrolmen to her regular hangouts, to places where she'd been spotted. They didn't catch her, but every few days she'd call in — to yell at him and to let him know she was okay.
"In some weird way, I still wanted them to be there for me whenever I was ready," she says. "I didn't want to cut off the relationship."
The cops finally caught up with Audrey in Commerce City on April 24 and sent her to a Denver halfway house. She was also assigned a new LEA: Having both sisters proved too much for even Addison to handle.
Corvalan pulled some strings so that she could meet with Audrey regularly at the halfway house and run a one-on-one substance-abuse program. With Corvalan's help, Audrey learned how the drugs had rewired her brain chemistry. She identified her personal trigger points, the things that made her want to get high — like her old dope friends, her dad and her sister. She went to peer group meetings at TASC, where women shared their stories of being 100 days clean, 280 days clean, 500 days clean. And she attended TASC family nights, where clients, their kids, substance-abuse clinicians and even LEAs would get together and chow down.
Soon Audrey was passing her drug tests without the use of someone else's urine. "I felt like I could do it. I was totally focused and serious," she says. "I wasn't depressed with my life; I felt there was hope."