Every so often it is profitable to reflect on the fact that the bills, rules, and policies churned out at the State Capitol and city hall have real consequences, some on a viscerally personal level.
Consider the experience of a young lady named Lindsey. Many of you may know Lindsey, especially if you have been around the state capitol or involved in Democratic Party happenings for the past few years. Lindsey is a delightful young woman who has worked, in turn, as a respected legislative aid to key Democratic lawmakers, in the administration of Gov. Polis, on several Democratic campaigns, and now for a Democratic-leaning public affairs firm.
One evening last September, Lindsey and her boyfriend were enjoying an evening out, not far from their rather upscale Washington Park neighborhood. As they walked along, they were met by a denizen of one of the homeless encampments that have sprung up hither and yon around the city, a guy named David Adam Teague. Now neither Lindsey or her boyfriend are specifically trained in spotting the symptoms of substance abuse, but suffice to say they were well on display in this individual who proceeded to run up to our young couple insisting that he was being followed and needed Lindsey’s phone. Possession of which Lindsey, of course, was not exactly willing to relinquish to this guy.
Well needless to say, Lindsey’s reluctance to turn over her phone did not sit well with this fellow. He took a swing at Lindsey, whose boyfriend, naturally and honorably, stepped in to protect her, an act of chivalric duty which prompted Teague to retrieve a stolen screwdriver he had stashed away somewhere and stab Lindsey’s boyfriend in the head.
Fortunately, by the grace of God, the young gentleman survived, and he and Lindsey managed to escape further assault, albeit after being chased by this miscreant for some time. One can only imagine the terror and pain that gripped these two good people and transformed in an instant their idyllic evening into a nightmare.
We are permitted to ask why this happened. The depressing answer is that the cumulative effect of policies enacted over the years under the guise of criminal justice reform had much to do with it. A quick Google search of the assailant’s name reveals a long history of crime and violence. As a matter of fact, he was in jail in Denver on charges related to burglary less than three months before he attacked a young couple enjoying each other’s company on a quiet late summer’s evening in what should have been a safe, peaceful part of town, and jamming a screwdriver into a young man’s skull. He was released in June 2020, in our zeal to empty jail cells.
The problems illustrated by this horrific incident go deeper than our COVID jail-clearing binge, or even the mania that propels pre-trial reform efforts that seek to keep offenders on the streets. The homeless encampments, and the attendant criminal problems, are driven predominantly by a drug culture, mostly fueled by illegal opioids — heroin, fentanyl, carfentanyl — being smuggled over the border and being distributed on the streets by dealers peddling up to four grams at a time. Why four grams? Well, that’s the amount that lawmakers determined was permissible to carry and not be a felony. For perspective, four grams of carfentanyl would kill you, me, and most everyone you meet this week, several times over. And yet even if an idealistic cop were to arrest that dealer, the charge would be a misdemeanor, and he would be back in business before the weekend.
These illegal opioids are, of course, highly addictive, which drives their users to do whatever they feel they need to — rob, steal, mug — to get what they need to sell for their next fix. Things like, say, cell phones.
Meanwhile, state and local policies fetishizing “tolerance” prevent law enforcement from arresting the users camped along the sidewalks, arrests which would not only get them off the streets but into treatment. It’s absurdity piled on top of absurdity.
Absurdity which results in ordeals like our young couple had to endure. Their story has a somewhat happy ending; Teague was convicted by jury this week of his crimes against them. He will be in prison for somewhere between 10 and 30 years. Or, at least, until the next COVID outbreak.
I hope this provides some measure of peace and closure for my friend and her partner. It should also remind us that the purpose of the criminal justice system is to protect people like them from the predators of society, and, to the extent possible, seek to prevent such predation from occurring. The entire horrific incident should also serve as a clarion call to lawmakers that their actions have real world consequences, and policies of criminal tolerance are, for the victims, intolerable.