As my beloved grandmother used to say, “Will wonders never cease!”
Gov. Jared Polis, who failed to protect the Colorado state Capitol from violent rioters in 2020, has finally decided that security should be increased around this historic and venerable symbol of our state government.
But he’s a year and a half late.
The Denver Post reports that Polis has requested that the legislature appropriate an additional $4.5 million in Capitol security which includes a 73% increase in personnel.
Ironically, Polis and his director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Stan Hilkey, said that increased funding was needed because of “protests, civil unrest and threats toward Capitol Complex occupants.”
So where was Polis when legitimate, peaceful protests in downtown Denver against the tragic killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer were overtaken by anti-police rioters and anarchists who destroyed private and public property over several nights including the Capitol? Polis was apparently hunkered down in his mansion in Boulder with his Colorado State Patrol security detail.
Despite night after night of riots that desecrated and damaged the Capitol, Polis not only stayed out of sight, he said next to nothing and did nothing.
Only after former Republican Gov. Bill Owens publicly criticized Polis for not protecting the Capitol did Polis finally use strong language to publicly condemn the violent acts of the anarchist rioters.
This was extraordinary because governors are very reluctant to criticize their predecessors and successors. But Colorado had never seen the kind of blatant attack on the Capitol with no response much less leadership from the current governor and Owens felt compelled to speak.
After managing the first Owens gubernatorial campaign in 1998 and serving as his press secretary in the governor’s office for three years, I have a pretty good idea what he would have done. First of all, he would not have hidden in the executive residence or in his family home in Aurora.
Owens would have physically been at the Capitol and he would have protected it with the Colorado National Guard and the Colorado State Patrol. Any rioters who attempted to attack the Capitol would have been arrested and vigorously prosecuted.
I would venture to say that other former Democratic governors would have done the same thing as Owens. They would not have allowed the Capitol to be wantonly attacked with no response from the state.
It would be easy to see this sordid failure of leadership as an isolated incident but unfortunately, it fits into a larger picture of escalating crime in our state and nation. Polis’s acquiescence to the Capitol attacks is consistent with broader soft-on-crime policies by liberal Democratic mayors, city councils, district attorneys, and state legislators in Colorado and across the country.
What message did the Polis send to those anarchists who ran roughshod over downtown Denver while attacking a defenseless Capitol? His silence and refusal to act was an invitation to continue.
The Common Sense Institute has released a comprehensive study of Colorado’s increasing crime rates led by two of Colorado’s most respected former district attorneys, Democrat Mitch Morrisey of Denver County and Republican George Brauchler of Douglas County, and the numbers are staggering. The average monthly crime rate is 15% higher than 2019 and 28% higher than 2011 with the violent crime rate increasing by 35%.
The report was damning for criminal coddling judicial policies with 70% of those arrested in Denver having prior arrests and 30% of those having five or more prior offenses and 54% had multiple charges against them in the same year.
While serious crimes were increasing by 47%, Colorado’s prison population decreased by 23% since 2008. Personal recognizance bonds increased by 61% over the past three years and $1 and $2 bonds by 1,879% (read that one-thousand-eight-hundred-seventy-nine-percent) in the last three years.
These are the sobering results of absolute Democratic Party control of state government since 2018 and overall Democratic dominance since 2004 of the legislature and the governorship. Elections do matter and Colorado’s public safety has been compromised and undermined.
If Colorado voters want to be safe in their homes and communities, they should remember the disgraceful attack on our Capitol and the staggering increase in crime in the 2022 election.
Dick Wadhams is a Republican political consultant and a former Colorado Republican state chairman. A version of this article originally appeared in The Denver Post.
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