EDITORIAL: 2021 brought chaos eclipsing the crises that leaders must address in 2022

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Aurora police officials say three people were injured outside of Hinkley High School in Aurora Nov. 19. It’s the second shooting in close proximity to a high school in five days. Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

 

2021 wasn’t just tumultuous because of all that happened in Aurora, across Colorado and around the globe. The year was remarkable for what didn’t happen but needs to in 2022.

Few will look back at 2021 and not be awestruck that so many momentous things happened in the short span of 12 months.

The government was nearly overthrown by what increasingly appears to have been a deliberate attempt to subvert the 2020 election, overrule the votes of millions of Americans, and install Donald Trump as president.

The nation squandered an opportunity to manage or greatly diminish the death and sickness caused by the pandemic as millions of Americans refused to use a vaccine that has been repeatedly proven to be safe and effective.

After 20 years of deadly and expensive intervention in Afghanistan, the United States bungled a strategic exit from that beleaguered nation, leaving tens of millions of people to starve and suffer at the hands of the Taliban, again.

The year was marked by astounding “natural” calamities across the globe, most of which appear to be the result of unnatural global warming, a threat to our very existence. Despite that, an annual world meeting offered little of substance in the fight against climate change. And in the United States, much of Congress continues to actively fight against a U.S. climate change plan, dismissing the peril to all humanity.

In Colorado and Aurora, focus primarily on the pandemic prevented other cataclysms from being addressed.Regardless of how difficult the pandemic proves to be in 2022, lawmakers in Aurora and residents in the region must be engaged and committed to find solutions to these critical problems.

• On a state level, the push for health-care reform is paramount. Congress has become a lost cause for important changes that, unless they are made, threaten the quality and access of health care for everyone. A virtually unregulated insurance, hospital and provider system has created a race to the bottom to serve these industries but not the public. Without a meaningful move to universal care, our broken health care system will collapse.

• In Aurora, lawmakers must not only address a dangerously damaged police department but a simultaneous plague of gun violence. Police and city lawmakers wisely stepped back from the scandal-plagued police department to assess what created a dysfunctional force. It’s a police department that not only accepted but at one time defended a policy of cruel, inexcusable brutality against the public that the force was created to serve. It’s time to restructure the department in a way that ensures officers are fair and effective law enforcers. It must operate transparently and be accountable not just to themselves or a politicized city government, but to the public it serves.

A recent move by the city council to hand out $8,000 “retention” bonuses to cops without any understanding of or concern for the complexity of the problem bodes ill for finding real solutions to the reform quagmire in the near future.

Many of the same city council proponents are anxious to drag out past, useless “solutions” to a gun violence crisis in the region. Despite consistent warnings even from police, a bevy of legislators and lawmakers believe cops can substantially prevent the shootings, especially among youth, that plague the community. 

Decades of trial and error have proven they do not. Police respond to shootings. They don’t stop them.

State and city lawmakers must explore the causes of rampant gun violence and then act to address it. Otherwise, Aurora will only repeat the past in hiring more cops to respond to more shootings.

• Residents in the city and across Colorado must own their own part of a growing cause of endless problems here, and across the nation: apathy and propaganda. The vast majority of residents shrug off what seems to be an endless supply of bad news. Often feeling unable to effect change, it’s become fashionable and acceptable to just ignore it. It’s because of that indifference, people like Trump and people like him, a minority of Americans, have held so much sway in the nation. Others are brainwashed by a growing number of sources providing not just junk journalism but outright propaganda. Top among these sources is Fox News and a bevy of local talk-radio shows, filled with outright lies and disinformation, urging people to join dangerous and corrupt ploys to undermine their government and their own wellbeing. For those who can’t look away from the propaganda, at least take the time to seek out credible accountable news sources.

There is no doubt that much of 2022 will bring new waves of hardship and adversity. Despite that, residents and lawmakers must address these and other critical issues that, left unsolved or mistreated, will only make for an even worse future for everyone.  

 

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Don Black
Don Black
7 months ago

The same biased rant about a policy of brutality by the police. The author has no idea about the policies and no idea about use of force. I know what the policies have been. There were no brutal policies. He also does not understand that the police do prevent crime and shootings. What he fails to understand is that all of the minor stops the police make keep the lid on society. It is in those stops that the police find persons who are wanted, persons actively involved in other crimes, persons who are armed, persons driving stolen cars, persons with stolen property, and a host of other things. The idealistic and poorly worded police reform bill has meant that the police are not making those stops. The narrative that the police should not use force and not stop people for minor crimes is dangerous. The failure to recognize that bad things happen when people feel that they can run or fight the police is damaging our society. As citizens, we have a responsibility to comply with the police. There are plenty of avenues for complaints if you are mistreated. Body cameras and transparency are good. Citizen involvement is good. Uninformed people changing the laws and telling the police what tactics they can use are not good. Your legislators have hamstrung the police. You, the public, go about your lives thinking the legislature has done a good thing. It isn’t your fault that you don’t have the time to research the police reform bill. As for the author, he should learn more before he makes his broad generalizations about police brutality. I understand that his focus is idealistic and always liberal, but he does harm by spreading bad information without facts. There are lies on both sides of the liberal and conservative teams. The brutal racist police lie is right up there with the Trump election lie. Uniformed, idealistic people are not going to help fix gritty, real world problems if they can’t deal with reality. For the police, they know that the problems have come from poor leadership. They know that leadership has failed to discipline bad officers and failed to provide adequate training and ethical guidance. These same political chiefs will not stand up and tell you about the impact of the police reform bill. These same political chiefs will not stand up for their officers when they are wrongfully charged. These same political chiefs feel that crime levels are acceptable and don’t want their officers to get involved because something bad might happen and they will have to explain. There are bad people out there. Force is necessary. For the police, it is painful when they see an officer do something stupid. It makes it hard to convince people of the truth about police in general. When you have a large organization, you will have people doing stupid things. Those officers should be dealt with. In the past, police administrators have treated their departments like good ole boy systems full of favoritism. In a career, an officer deals with many situations that require quick decisions and many uses of force. There will be mistakes that the officer will learn from. The officer must be corrected and retrained when he/she makes minor mistakes. Having some idealistic group decide the officer should be fired immediately paralyzes the police. As I have said before, let us have some open debate between the police and those who are complaining. When I say the police, I don’t mean the political chiefs.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
7 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

Yeah? Well when I say “the police”, I mean “the police”.

I worked in law enforcement in two different states and two different environments. One was a city far larger than Denver, and the other was in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I was not a cop (though I was literally a “law enforcement officer” in Colorado).

Alfred Hitchcock was once asked what was the most frightening thing to him. He replied that a police officer was, because if the officer tells you you have to come with him, you must obey. Cops know this. I have known cops I would take a bullet for, but I’ve known far more who scared the holy hell out of me. And generally, we need far fewer police, not more.

You know what a lot of cops do while on duty? They look for people who are committing some “offense”, no matter how trivial, no matter if it’s illegal or not. I once saw a guy pulled over for failure to signal a lane change. In short order the number of cops on the scene went from one to eight. For a traffic infraction.

I have caught cops embellishing facts to justify their baseless detention of drivers and pedestrians. I have had so many cops lie to my face that it makes it hard to credit even the good ones.

And racism remains probably the biggest cause of this. You think Elijah McClain would have been stopped (for nothing) had he been white? Yeah? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.

The entire institution of policing needs a complete overhaul. And I mean complete. Until cops stop devoting their time to looking for minor infractions to excuse an illegal stop, this will not get better. Until cops stop assuming the worst of every person of color, this will not get better. Until cops start to see themselves of members of the communities they police, this will not get better. The most effective cop I ever knew made the fewest arrests. He was respected, not feared, by the citizens.

Finally, until the code of silence is finally destroyed, it will never get better.

Don Black
Don Black
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

There is no amount of knowledge or experience that will change where you are in your opinions. I spent 37 years in law enforcement and I certainly know all about bad cops. Unlike those in charge, I actually tried to do something about it. But I also know about the good cops and the culture at APD. Racism had nothing to do with Elijah.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
7 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

You are the most blind of the blind.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
7 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

Another rant from someone that has lived off the public dole for years.

Look a little deeper in the statement above and follow the money. He doesn’t want you messing with his rice bowl.

He also does not understand that the police do prevent crime and shootings.”

Give specific data that proves this point in Aurora or any place else. Not generalizations. For example, provide data that indicates an increase in police budgets reduces crime, in any way.

*Crickets*

Don Black
Don Black
7 months ago
Reply to  Good Citizen

There is no way to prove that you prevented something that did not occur. I will say that stopping someone in the act of raping a child or catching someone who just did was strong proof to me that I prevented further acts by those persons. Stopping someone in the act who was assaulting someone else was proof to me that I had prevented something. I guess you would have had to have been there. But as you destroy the police without any idea how to replace them, I guess you will get an idea about whether they prevent things.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
7 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

Why are you so defensive? Nerves have been struck.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
7 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

As I thought, nothing specific. When, where, how, nothing. No data, no figures. Personal anecdotes don’t cut it, especially from a welfare recipient like yourself. I protect me and mine. Anyone entering my space with an intent to harm me or mine is going to get a hole in their forehead, including some overpaid clown in a blue costume. How’s that for “prevention”? How many years have you been a freeloader?

John in Denver
John in Denver
7 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

I agree we can’t calculate the deterrent impact. It happens to some extent, and fails sometimes, too.

What is clear is that the model of policing we now have does not work well: Pew Research used statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and its own surveys, and concluded “Most violent and property crimes in the U.S. are not reported to police, and most of the crimes that are reported are not solved.” “In 2019, police nationwide cleared 45.5% of violent crimes that were reported to them and 17.2% of the property crimes that came to their attention.”

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
7 months ago
Reply to  Good Citizen

Give specific data that proves this point in Aurora or any place else.”

A certain Lakewood cop and a certain Lakewood mass shooter certainly blow a huge hole in your theory that police do not prevent crime and shootings, as that is literally what Agent FERRIS JUST DID.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
7 months ago

Nonsense. Anyone, including you, could have blown that dirtbag away and I wouldn’t have had to pay you a dime. The four people he killed might argue that she didn’t “prevent” any of their deaths. Next time one of these scum shows up, one his intended victims can take his head off. Don’t be a coward, it doesn’t pay.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
7 months ago

Of the 4 killed, how many did she prevent? And, specifically, how many shootings did she prevent after his death? (Don’t generalize, it makes you look foolish and diminishes your argument) Want to present yourself as a conservative? Stop stealing my tax dollars for your favorite overpaid welfare recipients.

Bob
Bob
7 months ago

https://kdvr.com/news/problem-solvers/aurora-police-lieutenant-retires-before-he-can-be-fired/
“A recent move by the city council to hand out $8,000 “retention” bonuses to cops without any understanding of or concern” 
This statement is not completely true as APD Officer Marty Garland has been asked to move on or get fired.  But here we go  again -Where’s the chief  with her non-transparency on this? She’s all over the place willing to talk with reporters on most any other matter. City council I’m pretty sure would not think the $8K bonus is appropriate in this case. Common sense I hope we will see?   

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
7 months ago

Well said, my man! “Residents in the city and across Colorado must own their own part of a growing cause of endless problems here, and across the nation: apathy and propaganda.” is all that needs to be said. But since we will fail in this regard, all we can say is “God help us,” because only God can help us now.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
7 months ago

We have been doomed to increasing gun violence since Antonin Scalia decided to ignore what the Second Amendment was written to address and instead create a new constitutional “right” out of whole cloth, with an assist from the NRA.

It certainly doesn’t help matters when the police applaud a 17-year-old kid from another state arrogating the authority to use deadly force and killing protesters. (It also doesn’t help when the Republican-run state of Wisconsin fails to have a simple manslaughter law.)

Between gang violence and lethally armed vigilantes, it’s no wonder we kill more people than any other country through the indiscriminate availability and use of firearms. The Republican solution? Loosen the laws to allow nonsense like “stand your ground” “make my day” and make it even easier for untrained vigilantes to arm themselves with guns, and even easier to use them with legal sanction.

We have abandoned the ancient principles of self-defense to allow pursuit and murder instead civilization.

It really is a jungle out there. And there’s no end in sight.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

“… make it even easier for untrained vigilantes to arm themselves with guns, and even easier to use them with legal sanction.”

Sorry to break the news, but vigilantes are the least of your worries. Gang members and/or criminals, on the other hand.


Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
6 months ago

So says the editor who just ran a a one-sided hit piece on a catholic high school and called it News— not opinion.

C’mon man!