Was I Wrong About the Denver Police Department?


In 1998 I was semi-involved in something really unsettling, and I’m now wondering if I just badly misinterpreted what happened.

The story begins in graf 4. Here’s where it gets interesting:

While I’m waiting for the whites to dry there’s a small crash up the street – a fender-bender a block or two up. A few seconds later a guy, probably in his mid-20s, comes running past the front of the laundromat, looking back up the street at somebody. A few seconds later two more men come down the street after him, moving at a brisk walk. As they pass, we can all see clearly that one of the men is hiding a fairly large knife behind his back. They’re taunting the first man to come back to them.

I called 911. Five minutes later I had to call them again. Five more minutes and the cops finally arrived. Whereupon the dumbfucks ignored what I was saying about armed men chasing an unarmed man and headed back up the street to check out the mini-wreck.

I already had low expectations of the Denver PD but this was absurd even by their standards. And I drew a conclusion that has stayed with me to this day:

The police cannot protect me.

Recent events have me rethinking the whole episode, though. In the quoted piece above I omitted a couple of details. At the time I wrote the original post they seemed irrelevant, I guess, and now I’m feeling exceptionally naïve.

The guy running was black. The three men chasing him were Latino. And in an attempt to be as thorough as possible, I told this to the dispatcher.

The cops who turned up were white.

So, were the cops that day swamped and it just took a while to respond? Were they merely not very good at their jobs?

Or was the delay about racism?

If I hadn’t specified would the police have arrived sooner? What if I’d said the guy being chased was white? What if I’d said, in my perfectly white accent, that the Mexican guys were menacing a laundromat full of innocent people?

Did the cops take forever because they were incompetent or because they were okay with brown people carving up other brown people?

I don’t know and I never will, but I have all the evidence I need to suspect the worst, don’t I?

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