Year in Review

Strange but True

In a year of record lows, Denver could report a new high point -- several, in fact, since the Mile High City had grown three feet taller in some places, according to the National Geodetic Survey. Those findings, made in the 1990s but just now showing up on maps, indicate that some parts of the city, including the State Capitol, are actually higher than the advertised 5,280 feet. But don't expect a new slogan anytime soon. "The Mile High City is kind of a signature name for Denver, and I think that will always remain," said mayoral spokesman Andrew Hudson. "It sounds sort of unreasonable to say the Mile High Plus Three Feet City."*

Homeland Insecurity

In December, Arapahoe County Sheriff's Deputy Albert T. Kidd was suspended without pay after it was reported that he had waited in a doughnut shop for several minutes before responding to a call about an accident with injuries. A female customer at the LaMar's shop at 6840 South University Boulevard tattled on the veteran officer, saying that when the call came in, Kidd -- who was on a break at the time -- acknowledged it but continued to chat with a female friend for several minutes. D'oh! Reached for comment by a reporter, the 51-year-old Kidd said, "I pride myself in being a good cop." A 69-year-old woman at the accident scene was treated for minor injuries; no word on whether any gooey baked goods were impounded as evidence.

A former King Soopers security guard was sentenced to six years in prison for forcing a teenage girl to have sex with him after he caught her shoplifting $3.77 worth of merchandise. Augustine Anthony Garcia, a 34-year-old guard working at the Edgewater store, was convicted of soliciting child prostitution and extortion. According to officials, he told a sixteen-year-old girl that the only way she could avoid jail was intercourse. He then took the girl in his office, showed her his badge -- and pulled out something other than his pistol.

In January, a school science project titled "How to Build a Bomb" backfired on a Kiowa High School student when an anonymous caller tipped off police. While students grumbled, authorities scrambled to dismantle the display; although it could not be detonated, police said it contained all the necessary ingredients for a bomb. A science teacher who'd overseen the seventeen-year-old's work was placed on paid leave, and school officials announced that future science projects would be given closer scrutiny. Legally, the case proved a dud: In June, the district attorney declined to file any charges.

Air Force Academy cadet Matt Bayless was ready to fight for his country, but he didn't anticipate a battle over a dirty bomb. After a roommate circulated sexually explicit photographs of Bayless that he'd found on Bayless's computer, Air Force brass ordered that Bayless be "disenrolled" and repay approximately $121,000 to the Air Force for his education. But the 26-year-old fought back, arguing that the pictures were intended for a girlfriend, and won a reprieve. The ex-Zoomie won't have to fork over any dough, but he's now under orders to serve three years as an enlisted man. And he won't be graduating from the Colorado Springs institution, in -- or out of -- his uniform.

Less than six months after the 9/11 attacks, former Denver police chief Tom Sanchez -- exiled to Denver International Airport after an earlier scandal -- and some of the officers he supervised there were busted by a Channel 4 investigation that showed cops loafing in a DIA lounge intended for paramedics, sometimes for hours at a time. Councilman Ed Thomas called the offense a violation "of public trust during a time of national emergency." Sanchez was reassigned -- again -- this time to the police academy.

DIA's entire A Concourse was evacuated after a passenger "accidentally" kicked loose a metal-detector power plug, according to the now-grounded Argenbright security firm. The problem wasn't noticed for about six minutes, by which time about eighty passengers had gone through the dormant screening device. Because of the security breach, all passengers on the concourse had to be rescreened.

Rich Wyatt, a candidate for Jefferson County sheriff, posted a $100,000 bounty on the head of Osama bin Laden. The only catch -- other than snagging the elusive terrorist -- was that the successful bounty hunter must use a weapon from Gunsmoke Custom Gunsmithing in Wheat Ridge. The offer, first announced last spring in an ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine, still stands, even though Wyatt's sheriff's race fell flat.

The Best Defense...

The wheels of justice sometimes get squeaky, and freaky -- especially in local courtrooms this past year, which "seem to have had an unusual number of outbursts," says Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office.