[Opinion letter reference the Ramsey case; Source = Rocky Mountain Newspaper]

Dec 24, 2002

Accountability - what a concept!

December 24, 2002

Tis the season to bob and weave, to hide behind the subjunctive, to duck out from under when you should stand firm, and to stand firm when you should get out.

In at least three recent instances, local figures have had a hard time dealing with personal responsibility.

There's Ari Zavaras, who was shocked, shocked, to discover the other day that intelligence files kept by the Denver police department while he was chief and, later, manager of safety covered people they shouldn't.

Yessir, "heads would have rolled" if he had known that files were kept on mere political activists as well as on actual criminals.

The policy, established in 1984, permits files only on those who commit or threaten crimes and bans the collection of information on individuals whose only offense is backing unpopular causes. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of the political activists, claiming the files violated their civil liberties.

Had he been aware of any violations, "I most assuredly would have taken corrective measures to protect honest citizens from unwarranted targeting or harassment," Zavaras said.

Well, that's all spilt milk under the bridge now, so to speak, and he suggested his rivals for Denver mayor better not "politicize" the issue during the upcoming campaign. Alas, what a supervisor knew or should have known about the way his department was managed is a legitimate subject for debate.

Then there's the Boulder Police Department, which has cheerfully surrendered its role in solving the murder of JonBenet Ramsey to the local district attorney.

We didn't know police departments quit on unsolved murders. We've read many times about detectives who kept plugging away for years, even decades, on such cases. And why did the Boulder police bail out? Apparently because the victim's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, have lost faith in them.

Such an abdication by police is highly unusual, if not unprecedented. And bowing to pressure from the parents, who themselves are not out from under the umbrella of suspicion, makes it all the more egregious.

Besides, as former prosecutor Craig Silverman has noted, district attorneys aren't mystery solvers. Their expertise is putting together court cases based on evidence gathered by police. Boulder's detectives haven't done too well so far, but they shouldn't bow out.

[the rest of this opinion snipped from reporting here as it had no relation to the Ramsey case]