All stirred up: According to Denver police chief Dave Michaud, the SafeNite program "is an excellent additional tool that is being used by police officers to remove kids from dangerous environments."
One month into the program, the city had nabbed a total of 118 kids for curfew violation--at a price tag estimated at over $400 per. Apparently determining that upping the quantity was a way to cut down on costs, last Thursday the SafeNite squad focused on a place where kids are guaranteed to congregate: your friendly--and far from dangerous--neighborhood coffeehouse.
The midnight sweep at Muddy's, 2200 Champa, netted quite a few java-drinking juveniles. "They got twenty kids, and they hauled them away in cuffs," says Muddy's owner Joe DeRose. "A lot of these kids have no place to go. We were outraged. If anything, I'm an advocate for these kids. I yell at them a lot, but that's because they need to learn."
Co-owner Tim Fink was on duty when the seven squad cars took the kids away (after the cops had checked Muddy's licenses). "We have a full-time doorman," he says. "We're doing our part."
"I didn't understand it," adds one customer who watched the raid come down--and happens to work at a coffeehouse herself. "What harm is there in being at a nice, quiet coffeehouse?"
Particularly when one of the adolescents nabbed was DeRose's thirteen-year-old daughter, who was hanging out at the family business while her father was out of town. Although, essentially, she was already safe at home, the cops issued her a summons.
DeRose and daughter plan to fight the ticket. "It's a safe place," he says. "They're taking the kids away from coffee and books."
Cracking wise: While last week's locally produced Associated Press stories about cracked runways and soil expansion out at Denver International Airport barely registered on the Denver dailies' Richter scale, they rated the final joke on Sunday's installment of This Week With David Brinkley, the news show that regularly shakes up the country. Recalling earlier reports of disastrous baggage-system tests, Yoda lookalike David Brinkley suggested the city "fill the cracks with chewed-up luggage."
Gee, with Denver attracting attention like that, isn't it surprising that the city's umpty-umpth study on its image--released by the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau last week--would reveal that Denver has a poor national rep? (The good--and largely ignored--news in the report was that visitors who actually make it to Denver find that reality far surpasses expectations.)
As all these hits keep coming, it's tough to recall that just last August Denver was getting rave reviews around the world. The reason, of course, was the visit of Pope John Paul II, whose telegenic stay was only slightly marred by morning-show reports on the so-called "Summer of Violence" and updates on kids dropping like flies on their way to Cherry Creek Reservoir. But now you can return to those thrilling days of yesteryear--as Mayor Wellington Webb would no doubt love to do--by catching The Visit, a 57-minute movie that captures World Youth Day. The film, sponsored by the city and produced by playwright, videographer and ex-Westword writer Frank Hogan, had its largely unheralded debut earlier this month at the Denver Museum of Natural History, but its "warts and all" recounting of the festivities deserves a wider audience. Fortunately, you can request a showing over the city's official cable outlet, Channel 8: It's already slated to air at 10 a.m. Friday.
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