Letters to the Editor

Page 2 of 5

Male call: In "System Failure," Alan Prendergast chronicles a domestic-violence case involving a murderous predator by the name of Michael Garrett. In this article, however, it seems that Prendergast is suggesting that each male who comes before a domestic-violence court deserves to have the so-called book thrown at him. Indeed, Michael Garrett was and is deserving of severe punishment, but that does not mean that every male in domestic-violence court is guilty of what he is accused of, much less of committing the crazed actions of the likes of Michael Garrett.

If you would speak to law professionals specializing in domestic-violence cases, you would know that Denver authorities are making arrests on mere he-said, she-said allegations. Unluckily for the male detainees, even if their wife/girlfriend is arrested at the same time, the authorities will usually drop the case against the female and pursue the male. This policy is common knowledge in the Denver Public Defender's Office. Is there any justice or fairness in that kind of policy?

Apparently this policy, and to some degree Prendergast's article, is based on a myth that only women are victimized by domestic violence. Men are, as well; they just do not report it.

Mike Griffin
via the Internet

Editor's note: "Hitting Them Where They Live," our four-part series on domestic violence originally published in June 1998, discusses Denver's controversial program at length. It's archived at

Binge and Purge

Active imagination: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Why Spy?" in the September 5 issue:

Perhaps the reason the Denver Police Department didn't have anything to give her from the "purged" file is because the file is still "active." Just a thought. Every report contains the same precise language calculated to give a false sense of security: "No information from our purged files to give you." Did she happen to ask if there was anything in the active files?

Bill Nelsch

Bum's rush: I got to police headquarters around 5:15 p.m. last Tuesday for the ACLU rally, discovered no one was outside, and went inside, where I saw Mark Silverstein and a bunch of other people patiently waiting. I had already downloaded the information-request form and the group-representation affidavit form off the DPD Web site and had them filled out and notarized when I walked in the building. So I got in line, filed my forms and waited. Suddenly the reception area started filling up. The place was packed; I can't imagine what it must have been like for ordinary citizens on police business walking into that. I saw a bunch of peace activists, the Tyranny Response Team, Steve Schweitzberger, Latino/Latina activists. It was probably one of the most comprehensive conglomerations of activists ever to appear in one spot in Denver.

I got my results at 6:15 p.m.: no files. I had filed on behalf of myself and the no-longer-active AIDS activist group ACT UP/Denver, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. ACT UP was quite active in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group held rallies, demonstrations and die-ins, sang AIDS carols at the governor's mansion, picketed public-health buildings. No files, says the DPD. I was bummed: What kind of activist am I if the group I was with didn't have files with the police?

But unlike Patricia Calhoun, I don't think those pre-1999 records that weren't transferred to the new computerized database were turned into landfill. Police agencies, whether their initials are KGB, FBI or DPD, have several things in common. One of them is a fanatical desire to collect and maintain records on groups and organizations not to their liking. Another is a desire to never destroy any information they do create. I think those "purged" files are sitting in a basement storage room, still intact. Unfortunately, short of a major lawsuit with high-powered attorneys, we'll probably never know for sure. And I'll guarantee you that you, me and a host of others are in those files.

Thanks for Calhoun's columns on the police spy files.

Peter Gross

Unsafe at any speed: On November 5, I will vote for myself for the sixth time. Having run for mayor of Denver twice, city council twice and the state legislature, I figured there was a chance I had my name listed in the infamous "spy files."

But for designing a safety holster? As candidate for Jefferson County sheriff, I have demonstrated how my Mena-Monitor can automatically dial a cellular phone to provide instant hands-free communications and location by global satellite when an officer's gun is drawn in an emergency. I have shown how the holster can also be programmed for audible alarm if unauthorized access occurs to a gun stored at home.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.