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Another take on police brutality

To the Editors,

The media goes into a feeding frenzy when the opportunity arises for negative coverage of police work as was portrayed in the Telegraph's very disappointing article on "brutality" against a 19-year-old, (Dec. 16, 2004, and response, Dec. 23, 2004). Our department has far more positive interactions and newsworthy occurrences than this, however, people seem to get their fuel only from these biased stories. Everyone should be held accountable for their actions but let's try to base our opinions from news that evenly portrays both sides of the story.

In many cases to the untrained civilian eye, arrest control techniques may seem unnecessarily aggressive. In past years, nationwide police have taken on less forceful ways of dealing with resisting individuals, such as joint manipulation and verbal tactics instead of brute force. In general there are three types of force: perceived, unintentional and intentional. Perceived being how civilians see it.

Sometimes force is unintentionally excessive and unfortunately at times intentional. Often the control tactics that don't look necessary to bystanders are used to protect the innocent. The aggressors and witnesses are separated from each other, not in an effort to block visually or audibly what is happening, but to deescalate the situation and keep it from getting further out of control. If you are in a situation where force is used, chances are good you are doing something to resist arrest and warrant the action. The only reason for us to dislike the cops is because we are breaking laws that as a community we have agreed to uphold. It is vital for the community to support excellence in law enforcement and to do this, the people need a clearknowledge of what actions are necessary to protect society and not a one-sided distortion of law enforcement based on occurrences that don't portray the police as a whole.

Starting in the mid '60s, our view of law enforcement has been in a downward spiral.

When situations turn for the worse in our lives and get out of control, they are the first we call in and we want them at a moment's notice. As Paul Harvey said, "He, of all men, is at once the most needed and the most unwanted. He is a strangely nameless creature who is 'sir' to his face and m--f-- behind his backThe police officer must be able to whip someone twice his size and half his age without damaging his uniform and without being brutal If you hit him, he's a coward. If he hits you, he is a bullyHe runs through files and writes reports until his head aches to build a case against some villain who will get dealt out by a shameless attorney or judge who isn't honorable."

Hopefully most of us will never be in a situation where police involvement is warranted, however, as a 19-year-old in this community, I take great comfort and peace that there are men and women willing to serve and protect amid the constant negative criticisms that they endure.

- Brittany Valdez,

via e-mail

In defense of Social Security

Dear Editors,

Cutting social security and privatizing it is at the top of the list for this second-term administration. Wall Street is licking its greedy chops! Virtually everyone agrees thatit's a great system. It provides tens of millions of workers with a guaranteed, core retirement income, disability insurance and it provides survivors' insurance to the children of workers who die at an early age. A pillar of the New Deal.

It is also extremely efficient. The administrative costs of Social Security are just 0.6 cents of every dollar that get paid out in benefits.Compare it to systems of private accounts, (like the one in England) that eat up 15 cents of every dollar in benefits. Social Security also has a minimal amount of fraud and abuse, as numerous government audits have repeatedly documented. Maybe that's the problem, it's efficient and it helps people.

The current administration and Wall Streethave managed to convinceyou that Social Security is on the edge of bankruptcy. Millions of younger workers, and even many older workers, now believe that they will never see their Social Security checks. Of course we were also told that Iraq has WMD and strong ties to Al Qaeda, and the cost of Medicare reform was underestimated by a mere $100 Billion.

According to the Social Security Trustees report, the program can pay all scheduled benefits through the year 2042, with no changes whatsoever. Even after 2042, the program would always be able to pay a higher benefit (in today's dollars) than what retirees currently receive, although less than the full scheduled benefit.

Also the Congressional Budget Office did an independent investigation of Social Security's finances and came up with an even brighter picture. They found that it could pay all benefits through the year 2052 with no changes whatsoever. Furthermore, according to both sets of projections, the changes required to keep the program solvent through its entire 75-year planning period are smaller than the changes made in any of the decades from the 1950s to the 1980s.

In the face of warnings from numerous economists (RED and BLUE), the financial industry - which stands to make billions in new business on privatized retirement accounts - and the White House have been on a steady campaign of fear to convince you that Social Security is on the edge of bankruptcy and needs a quick fix.

If people knew the truth about Social Security's finances, there would be no support for Bush's benefit cuts and privatization plan - and that is why proponents of privatization have worked hard to spreadlies about Social Security's financial health. But remember, there is no more reason to trust these groups of folks on Social Security than their talk about Iraq. Look at the numbers and reach your own conclusion.

- Bill Vana,


Broke, hungry and going home

Dear Durango,

How I have loved thee.

As I write this, less than a week stands between me and my departure. Unfortunately, I'm not headed for greener pastures, but home to mommy. This year-and-a-half long experiment in independence has concluded, with varying results.

The pleasures were many but simple, the heartaches plentiful, and the desolation too sharp. This is a funny community; love of beer holds us together as strongly as blood. I almost went to a Contra Dance this summer, but opted for the keg party instead. Yet, when you wake up all soured on some dude's couch, with not a drink of orange juice in sight, you start to think about how nice it would be to be a part of something meaningful, or how nice it would be if mom were there with a big glass of OJ.

One thing we don't have in Durango is enough money. There are a few of you who might not agree with this, perhaps some of you wistful developers, real estate agents or sprawl champions, for whom, in reality, the bottom line is not rock bottom. Sure, you all live in the same community, deal with the same consequences of the boom, but no hungry, young person is gonna put a fist through your steel-plated door.

What you do have when you're poor, though, is your poverty. Yes, there are the cold nights and the empty refrigerator, but there are some joys that the wealthy don't experience. One of my favorite things to do when I had an extra five bucks was to go down to the used bookstore and browse. Later, if I found something, I'd pay and walk out into the sunshine, charged with anticipation, and all of main street was mine. I could sit anywhere for free and just read that god-damned book. It was like Hemingway's chestnuts, warm in his pockets.

Alas, the joys of poverty prove unsustaining, akin to farting in bed alone. Also, I think a person's potential is degraded by the incessant fight to get by. All the depravity, self-contempt and mediocrity that are born of this fight refute absolutely any theory of social Darwinism. To quote the great philosopher Everlast, "Where you end up usually depends on where you start."

One of my mistakes in moving to Durango was not having a starting plan. I only knew two people, my aunt and uncle, and had not been able to set up jobs from afar. A college degree in photography didn't help much and chasing down openings in classified ads gave no result. I tried starting my own business, working under the table for neighbors and taking photos here and there. I even tried to start a band when all else failed, but that failed too.

I don't think I've just been unlucky, because I know if you've got the patience and determination, it's not impossible to make an honest living here. I know lots of people who do, and who are fairly happy with the arrangement. The difference between them and me is not one of taste or surrender, but of the kind of focus that comes with age and experience. I sort of understand why people over 40 think people my age are shiftless losers. I feel like one sometimes.

And so, I am now folding the hand that looked so good that sunny day, coming into the sight of the hazy blue Front Range of the Rockies on Route 50. I am one of the lucky ones, though, because falling back on my parents, returning to my home is still a viable, if not overly appealing option. I can research my big questions, sharpen my arrows and perhaps even begin to beat down the spectre of college loans. And Mom won't let me eat just beans for a week and get up at 4:30 every morning for work. She'll take care of me for a while.

What once seemed like a guiding and smothering hand now seems to offer nurturing. But I think most of us shun this change of perception or simply never look back. In America, writes the photographer Robert Adams, space is the same thing as freedom. Space, that is, away from Mom and Dad.

So I think we need to help ourselves, but collectively as an age group. Youth in our country shouldn't bear the stigma of laziness or angst. We also shouldn't be expected to waste our vitality on the assembly line, so that those who were lucky enough to come first can eat their cake. Wealth is an accident of birth, but the American way is to make it seem otherwise. Said one lucky old miner, "When I came West I got the cream; let the come-latelys have the skim milk."

I got some skim milk when I came West, but I consumed it on my cereal in the morning. There were some perfect times in the mountains, some great friends, some beautiful loves, a few phenomenal games of pool at El Rancho. Searing memories, like standing in the lovely Animas in the moonlight, holding a fly rod. Maybe next time I happen by Durango, I'll have my cards in better order and won't be too tired to enjoy it.

Thanks for the ride, Durango. I love you still and wish you well. Might see you again.

- Peace,

Ole Bye





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