[Full disclosure: As this article was going to publication, the author was applying for employment with the incoming mayor's administration. -- eds.]
It's a simple question, really.
Now that the Mercury's Matt Davis has dug up conclusive proof that the cops are keeping a confidential list of people who've been singled out for harsher treatment—is Commissioner Randy Leonard still the controversial program's number-one cheerleader?
"I'm not involved with that program anymore," Leonard told me outside his office on Monday, December 1. I was there to reiterate Davis' request that the commissioner answer a few questions about "the list"—more wonkily known as the Service Coordination Team's Neighborhood Livability Crime Enforcement Program Chronic Arrestee List.
See, late last year, Leonard and Mayor Tom Potter worked together to toss $840,000 toward the program, which essentially replaced the drug-free zones in Old Town-Chinatown. Leonard has praised the program's carrot-and-stick approach to pushing people toward treatment: Folks on the list face felony charges for crimes that are normally misdemeanors. Facing a felony and sitting in jail, the idea is that a person will choose treatment instead.
We've got big concerns about tossing someone on a list and not giving them a way to challenge their placement on the list. Beyond that, folks like Commissioner-elect Amanda Fritz have raised questions about the efficacy of treatment under duress.
After Davis started poking into this scheme, filing records requests to try to nail down details of the program, Leonard backed off.
Leonard even went so far as to write, in a comment on the Mercury's Blogtown in August, "I have never been told of a list, I have never seen a list, I have never been told by the police bureau there is such a list, and I have never emailed an officer or anyone else about a list."
The first part made no sense. Officer Jeff Myers was the program's driving force. He carries the list in his front pocket. And he's a frequent visitor to Leonard's office.
But we do believe the last line of Leonard's comment, insisting he doesn't email about the list: According to an email he sent to another cop with whom he sought to establish a relationship, Leonard referenced the relationship "(...I have with Officer Jeff Myers and other street cops) where we do not communicate via email but, rather, you call me directly and we can talk one on one about any issue you choose whenever you feel it is necessary." Conveniently, this means there's no record. But if Leonard's that tight with Myers, we really doubt the list—the center of Myers' work in Old Town-Chinatown—never came up.
Unfortunately, Leonard has yet to answer Davis' questions. Like whether he regularly funnels gobs of money to programs "the fundamental basis of which you claim you had no knowledge or understanding." Or whether, now that the cops have confirmed the existence of the creepy list, Leonard still stands by the program.