One streaker gets plea bargain. Boulder cops defend their bullying

After I attended the Dec. 17 arraignment hearing for the 12 streakers cited by Boulder cops during the 10th annual Naked Pumpkin Run, I had a pretty busy week and didn’t have time to follow up further. Fortunately, The Colorado Daily did follow up on this case, reporting that one of the runners did accept the plea bargain offered by the Boulder District Attorney.

According to the Colorado Daily:

“[The runner] agreed Thursday to plead guilty to disorderly conduct, a petty offense. She agreed to undergo six months of unsupervised probation, eight hours of community service and pay $27 in court fees. She will not be required to register as a sex offender, and her record will be cleared if she doesn’t commit any crimes for at least six months.”

Also, Colorado Daily reported that according to prosecutor David Chavel:

“The agreement with [this defendant] would likely represent the same offer extended to all of the accused Halloween streakers. However, he said it would be ‘up to each individual’ to accept such an offer.”

“All of the cases are being handled separately, Chavel said, because some of the runners have attorneys and others do not. He said the remaining cases involving the naked runners are in negotiations with the Boulder District Attorney’s Office.”

What got me, though, was this statement from the Boulder Police Department quoted at the end of the Colorado Daily story. (Note: This statement does not appear to be on the Boulder Police Dept. web site, I’ll request a copy.)

“The decision was made by the District Attorney’s Office, which consulted with the department. Chief Mark Beckner believes this is an appropriate disposition. As for future violations, Boulder officers will continue to issue citations or make arrests based on the law as it is written. It is — and will remain — the province of the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether other charges are possible.”

…Correct me if I’m wrong, but this statement appears to mean that the Boulder cops intend to continue issuing indecent exposure citations to streakers — despite the fact that the DA’s office does not appear to consider that charge appropriate. Which means the cops can (and probably will) continue to bully and intimidate citizens through inappropriate charges — and leave it up to the DA and the courts to spend our resources to bring those charges back to reality.

There’s a much deeper issue at stake here beyond these cases, and it’s why I keep revisiting this story: Is this the kind of law enforcement we want to allow in Boulder?

Is it really OK for our public servants to use their authority in this way?

Face it: This is Boulder. People WILL keep streaking here. It’s part of the local culture of celebration — and many (perhaps most) Boulderites consider it harmless fun. So this issue WILL come up again.

…I’m not saying that we need to legalize streaking (celebratory or otherwise). People who streak in Boulder are taking a risk by breaking the law. But I do think that when enforcing the law, our police should recognize the difference between an offbeat celebration and a sexual assault. As I wrote earlier, if the cops were truly concerned about public safety at Naked Pumpkin Run, they could have cited runners for disorderly conduct — a charge the DA’s office evidently finds appropriate.

If our community does not find current police policy for busting streakers acceptable, then what can we do to change it? Specifically, what pressure could citizens or city council exert to curb cops’ ability to misuse the law as a tool of intimidation? Or could/should we lobby for changes to the current state sex offender registration law that would prevent this kind of absurdity?

Thoughts? What kinds of action might make sense?

I’ll continue to follow up on this case as my time allows. I expect that all of these cases will be plea bargained to disorderly conduct or a similar charge, or else dismissed. But we’ll see what actually happens.

2 thoughts on One streaker gets plea bargain. Boulder cops defend their bullying

  1. Seems like the Chief of Police and the DA need to have a cup of coffee and sort this out. Aren’t there better things they can both do with their time?

    It’d be fun to see how much overtime the Boulder PD has used this past year and exactly what it’s been spent on.

    If I were a tax-paying Boulderite (and I’m not…yet), I’d be a little cheesed-off at wasteful cases like this tying up the court system.

    In a related note, I heard people actually taste grapes at Whole Foods without paying for them. It may require tasers and night-sticks to stop them.

  2. I think that we need to change some laws. There is no good reason that someone who merely chooses to be in their natural state should be lumped into the same category as people who commit violent sex crimes. Being on the sex offender registry ruins people’s lives.

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