We don't enjoy busting on Denver cops and sheriff's deputies. They have dangerous jobs, they don't make much money, and if I hear something go bump in the night, you better believe I'll call them.
But it's hard not to question the system they are working in -- especially in light of two cases, both involving men who were shackled to their hospital beds, that made the news this week.
In the first, Samuel Govea was admitted to Denver Health Medical Center for a gunshot wound to his leg. That's when police discovered that Govea was wanted for a slew of crimes, including failure to register as a sex offender, violation of a protection order, felony burglary, assault, menacing and criminal mischief.
The cops shackled him to his bed at that point, but Govea apparently dismantled the bed after they left and took off. When asked by 7News why there were no deputies stationed outside Govea's door, Denver Sheriff's Department Captain Frank Gale said, "We don't have the staff to post a deputy outside the door of every patient in custody."
Another reason they don't have time to guard someone who has been accused of several violent offenses? Because they spend it arresting, transporting and booking people who don't have their dog vaccination paperwork in order. Priorities, priorities.
On Friday, CBS4 told the story of Randy Sloan, who called the cops last summer after he was threatened by a man with a knife. When the police got there, though, they arrested Sloan because he hadn't vaccinated his dog. Right about then, Sloan started having chest pains -- which would probably happen to anyone in that situation -- and was rushed to Denver Health, where he was shackled to his bed as well.
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"You can't use discretion when the court says you are to arrest this person on contact," Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson told CBS4.
No, they can only use discretion when deciding whether or not to guard someone who is wanted on numerous felony charges (Govea was later caught, by the way). And Sloan wasn't the only guy who made the news this week for not vaccinating his dog; Matt Townsend of Kittredge was also arrested and jailed for the same thing.
It's a situation that has gone to the dogs.
More from our Shmuck archive: "Douglas Bruce: political prisoner or blustering shmuck?."