Placards marking shell casings at the site of a shooting at Nome Park. Photo provided by Aurora Police Department

There’s not much new when it comes to finding ways to influence human behavior.

For the most part, appealing to people’s sense of fear and greed continues to be the leading options in all kinds of human transactions, including Aurora law enforcement. 

Aurora police and leaders of the city’s Youth Violence Prevention Program are working together under a new program in an effort to stop kids and young adults headed to the abyss.

While the two city agencies may be frightening city officials into backing the idea, successfully selling it to youths deep into lawlessness is yet to be seen.

Standing Against Violence Everyday, SAVE, apparently adopts the eons-old theory that people are motivated most by fear, and some by greed.

You don’t have to be a stock market salesperson or marketing guru to understand that one size of this strategy by no means fits all.

For generations, the government has issued fearful warnings about the effects of “your brain on drugs,” the fear of being horribly injured by not wearing a motorcycle helmet or the fear of languishing in prison for decades for robbing someone at gunpoint — or worse.

Despite those efforts, not only is illicit drug use prevalent, the very real threat of being killed using street drugs laced with a lethal amount of fentanyl doesn’t slow America’s appetite for rolling the dice. It’s the same story for limiting endless other harmful behaviors from smoking, to eating too much animal fat to harboring a gun.

The data is consistent and unequivocal. You are almost twice as likely to be shot to death if you live in a house with a handgun than someone who lives in a house without a gun. Studied repeatedly, that fact was emphasized last year in an Annals of Internal Medicine study of 600,0000 households in California. Despite all this, city officials believe that they can change the behavior of Aurora’s “most violent, prolific offenders” by threatening them with swift and serious justice and at the same time offering them access to social-service-like programs.

First off, we can all hope that Aurora’s “most violent, prolific offenders” are in prison. While some conservatives blame courts for being too lenient, the people who are actually the “most violent, prolific offenders” are indeed incarcerated.

While an increasing number of Aurora metroplex residents are afraid of those exhibiting lawless behavior — simply driving on highways, or encountering someone with a gun — it’s not the “most violent, prolific offenders” we need to fear most. It’s the growing number of everyday kids and young adults who see arming themselves as a normal, acceptable way of life. They dabble casually in flirting with death.

The accused East High School shooter this week seems to fall into this category of kids with guns.

The sheer flood of firearms into the public mainstream makes gun violence little more than a numbers game, with people living among the highly armed increasingly losing the odds of being unaffected by gun violence.

Just last week, state Sen. Rhonda Fields — a leading proponent of gun control — appealed to the Aurora City Council to do something about rampant gun violence after a stray shot shattered a window in her central Aurora home.

Unless Aurora police have evidence to the contrary, the more than 200 people shot in Aurora last year were not shot by a dozen or so of the “most violent” among us. 

It’s unclear just what Fields and others think police can do to stop the shooting. Former Police Chief Vanessa Wilson had the best advice for Aurora after nearly back-to-back school shootings in the fall of 2021.

She appealed to parents and others to stop their kids and young adults from arming themselves and shooting at each other. She insisted they know what is in their kids’ rooms, their cars and where their children are at all times.

“We can’t police ourselves out of this,” Wilson said. 

She was right. While offering young adults an “off ramp” from a life of crime by directing them to social services certainly makes sense, food stamps after-school programs aren’t enough. These wayward people need serious counseling, possibly drug addiction treatment and without a doubt earnest and effective education and job training, not just job assistance. 

But more importantly, all of these things need to be the focus of the community from daycare to college, not just people on probation.

Gov. Jared Polis’ press for free preschool and kindergarten are good first steps. But Aurora and Colorado must do much more to ensure children are deeply supported as they move through public schools, even and especially when their parents cannot provide the support children need.

Waiting until children become the most violent among us to provide threats or services in hopes of steering them away from prison will not solve the problem, and history has shown repeatedly, it never did.

The region’s gun violence quagmire is far beyond the ability of police to stop. Meaningful gun control laws, gun buybacks, gun accountability and a huge increase in programs that give kids and young adults an on-ramp to a more meaningful, rewarding life before they require an off-ramp from a life of violence should be the goal of the city, the community and the state.


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  1. A couple things standout in this opinion piece. Two elected officials, you only mention one official in this piece that are anti cop and do everything in their power to dilute, limit, and refuse to accept the reality cops are part of the maintenance crew, needed to keep the pieces somewhat in control in societies framework. This paper never seems to interested in pointing out the anti-cop policies and focus on local Reps that are in power that push them.  Rhonda Fields, a Aurora state legislator, and Tay Anderson a Denver Public School elected board member, are great examples of two tuned into this progressive mantra … cops are always bad – thinking. Although you mention the East high school shooting Wednesday, the failure of DPS to have SRO’s complements of DPS board in the school are a result of Anderson’s superior experience in cop removal. These two are in the business to eliminate the ability of law enforcement, these two likely high five each other, when they manage to see the cops packing their bags, as SRO officers in the public schools, or any other public places. We are going to find out 17-year-old Austin Lyle, had been given ever chance for rehabilitation.  What good did it do? After all, East was a posted “gun free zone” that everyone will assuredly obey.  But certainly, some will say we should have done more.           
    How much longer are we going to listen to people like Rhonda Fields and Tay Anderson? That’s your answer.  

  2. The students expect the adults to protect them. There aren’t any adults left. There are only weak politicians of both parties squabbling with each other and doing their best to gain power and discredit any idea offered by the other side. Whenever I hear any politician say they are committed to the public safety, I just laugh hysterically. If I were committed to fixing something, I would seek out anyone who had an idea, especially those who hard a background in the subject. I went before Council and suggested that they have a debate on policing with anyone interested in the chief’s job and people who might have knowledge. I have contacted and spoken to two Council people in the past. I had to contact them. I could not get a meeting for the Mayor to speak to some of us retired officers. I don’t care which group you are talking about, the supposed conservatives or the progressives; they both are the same. They are not serious about addressing problems. It only has to look like they are serious. It has to look like they have the ideas. When I was in Vietnam and when I ran the SWAT team, I realized that my people all had valuable ideas and experience. Whenever I had time. I would ask them how they thought we should do things. As a Lieutenant in Vietnam, I realized that many of my sergeants had prior experience in Vietnam and I leaned heavily upon that experience. Ego comes second to saving peoples lives.

    What no one seems to understand is that the answer to most problems is a consistent and multi pronged approach. Vanessa Wilson’s copout that we can’t police our way out of the problem was just that. The police are a big part of the solution. The prosecutors and the courts are a big part of the solution. Parents are huge part of the solution. Recreational programs for kids are a part of the solution. Gang programs are a part of the solution. They all have a part. The wall on the border was part of a solution. It was not the whole answer. It was necessary as a part of the solution.

    We have destroyed the parts of the solution. We have taught the youth that they are special and don’t have to care about anyone but themselves. We are going to protect them from being handcuffed when they are violent at school. We are going to protect then from the wrong pronoun. They are so special that they are not accountable when they hurt others. They are all victims of racial bias or some other neglect. They are no longer accountable and we have given them ready made excuses.

    We have made the prosecutors and courts political tools that waiver with fickle public opinion.

    The police actions of daily stops for minor offense are where people who are wanted or driving a stolen car are found. Many crimes are solved and prevented by these routine stops that discover armed persons. Having a police presence helps keep the lid on things.The police have been destroyed by a knee jerk police reform law passed by an uninformed and angry legislature who passed the badly flawed police reform bill, Thousands wisely left police work. More are going to leave as soon as they can. Yet, the governor and the legislature ignore the results of their own actions and talk about what they can do to address crime. Gee, we can’t get officers. Duh. Meanwhile, they are wrongly prosecuting officers everywhere. Don’t get me wrong. The Memphis officers deserved prosecution. Two Aurora officers are wrongly being prosecuted right now after a shoddy and probably politically motivated investigation by Chief Vanessa Wilson. Charges were filed before even looking at a videotape that clears the officers of wrong doing. In both the bodycam and the third party videotape, the suspect can be seen trying to take the officer’s gun many times. The alleged victim ( felony suspect) would not give a statement out of fear of incriminating himself. The detective ignored all the witness statements about the fact that the suspect fought the whole time. Yet, the prosecution continues. Apparently, the DA’s office can’t bring itself to look at the evidence. I am told by someone involved in the situation that the DA’s office was a prime mover in the charges.

    If you want to address a problem, you get input from all sides. You do not ignore the input of the people who are involved. The legislature was proud of the fact that they ignored the police when they passed the police reform bill. You talk to the people who do the job. The chiefs don’t do the job. They are politicians who are motivated by their own careers. In every police department there are officers who care about doing a professional job and fair treatment of the public. The ideas in a police department come from the people below who do the job. The problem has always been getting those ideas through the politician chiefs who run their departments like little dictatorships. We used to say that ideas were judged by the three factors in order. First, whose idea was it? Was it a police administrator or one of their favorites? Second, how much does it cost? Third, will it work. The public thinks that the chiefs are the good guys in the problem. The chiefs have created the problems you see. They have not given the training, equipment, and leadership that they should have given. Now, they are not standing up to voice the problems with the police reform bill and the consent decree.

    If you think that the chiefs know what they are doing, look at crowd control. Both Denver and Aurora had disastrous police actions in crowd control . It has cost millions of dollars because of the poor tactics and absolute lack of control demonstrated by the chiefs. They aren’t accountable for the property damage and injuries from their lack of leadership. I contacted City Council beforehand and warned them that Vanessa Wilson knew nothing and had no plan for crowd control. So, you the citizens fork out millions for incompetence at all levels.

    But back to the subject. Dave, the problem has to be addressed from many angles, including the police. Quit believing the politician who says they are committed to fixing a problem. Anyone who is truly committed to fixing a problem is seeking out anyone with an answer.

    1. Everything is a nail to a hammer. Get new material, Don. Every crybaby that left policing when they could no longer get away with violating people’s rights was never worthy of the badge. Good riddance to bad rubbish. The new blood will show you how it’s done.

      1. If you dig far enough into Don’s long winded novels about his trials and tribulations you’ll also discover the dirty secret that he wasn’t considered a candidate for the positions that he has so much phony contempt for. I wonder how many times he applied and was rejected?

      2. Sorry Bart. The public deserves to understand things that are not said. Believe me, very few of the officers who left were whiners or bullies. The lazy ones could stay because they no longer have to do anything and won’t, considering the risk. I teach the new blood, as you say, and they are struggling with how to do the job in today’s environment.

  3. If you are going to allow weapons then insist upon mandatory safety and use training along with a simple test to see if the weapons owner is ca
    pable of rational thought. Just like a drivers license.

    1. Yes, and prosecute to the tenth degree those who have a gun without the proper license. No exceptions for age.

      1. I thought that this whole 2nd Amendment debate was over whether people should be allowed to “keep and bear arms” WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT’S PERMISSION. We already need to have the government’s permission to hold a job, and look what that has done to the unemployment and poverty rates in America.

  4. History teaches us that human beings enjoy killing, especially other human beings. There is really nothing parents, teachers or the police can do about that. The idea that murder, a pastime enjoyed by those manning the entrance to a mass gas chamber, as well as some half witted punk in a high school, would be even slightly deterred by anything that anyone does or says is absurd.

  5. Could one of the frequent conservative reply guys who read this paper please explain to me why you insist on responding to everything by regurgitating what the current news cycle on FOX and other right-wing opinion shows are talking about?

    Why do you do this? Is it for someone? Do they pay you? What does it do for you? Does it help you feel impactful? Does it help with your anger issues?

    1. Maybe once you explain why you regurgitate the same old leftist strawmen, Bart.

  6. APD could embrace change and the Consent Decree and change their own trigger-happy brutality issues.

    1. It wasn’t the cops’ fault that teenager was shot outside the Aurora Mall, Debra, nor their fault that two teachers at East were shot by that dingdong a few days ago.

      Endemic violence is a symptom of a low-trust, dysfunctional society where bad behaviors are enabled and excused on a double standard basis. A rotten tree produces rotten fruit.

  7. People must register a car, have a drivers license, take a student drivers class, and get insurance to drive. Seems to me that requiring nationwide background checks, making sure guns are registered, securing them behind locks, and holding gun owners accountable if their child gets ahold of it and kills someone are reasonable! And before the gun lobby shouts me down, I’ve hunted most of my life and probably shot more rounds than most, but I always used guns for hunting alone. I never felt so paranoid that I needed a gun for protection. I never owned a handgun and would never own an AR-15. They are not a hunting gun. Now I’m old and got rid of them all. I’m just tired of the slaughter of innocents.

    1. People must register a car, have a drivers license, take a student drivers class, and get insurance to drive.”

      I’m more than happy to treat firearm ownership EXACTLY like vehicle ownership. I get a license and insurance to own a firearm. In exchange:

      -The license test is a simple operator test and renewal is a semi-short trip to the DMV that doesn’t require anything more than a vision test, just like cars.
      -The license is reciprocal across the entire US and is “shall issue,” just like cars.
      -I can buy whatever gun I like, from a dealer or private seller, across state lines, without a background check, just like cars.

      Let’s treat guns exactly like we do cars–PLEASE. Doing so would yeet most of the current, and mostly useless, gun control laws out of existence.

    2. Then they should register their vote. There is a reason the government is prevented from a registry.
      The Biden administration left behind their computers with a registry of all Afghanis who worked with the US government and their weapons. The Taliban had a nice list, including addresses, of who to visit.

      This country has coddled criminals and taken away self-responsibility. And you suggest the law-abiding be rendered defenseless in this climate of democrat policies?? Why else would you want a convenient list of legal gun ownership? It is LAW to report stolen guns, already. And the government has already shown they will suspend your civil liberties with just a declaration of ’emergency powers’!
      Three years of “flattening the curve”, sheeple!

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