When high-profile anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce complained that he was awakened by police notifications about a missing teenager, Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey did not hold back in his Sunday morning email response.
"I regret that the phone notifications took you from your beauty rest. In truth, the beauty rest ain't working anyway," Carey wrote.
Bruce had asked the chief by email to stop city calls to him unless they relate to "specific crimes against me and my property." He wrote that he was awakened about 10:30 p.m. Saturday by a call about a missing at-risk teenager in the Laredo Ridge Drive area, "wherever that is," and again shortly before midnight with news that the girl had been found.
"TRY to exercise some judgment and common sense about the timing of random calls to citizens," Bruce wrote. "This CSPD practice must be stopped."
Carey replied to Bruce that his "complete lack of care, concern and compassion for anyone but yourself fits perfectly with your obnoxious and bullying personality."
The teen was found "due partly to the advisories that went out," Carey wrote.
Bruce one day might be the missing person for whom public help is sought, the chief wrote. "Perhaps not, as that would actually require someone to miss you enough to make an initial report," he added.
Carey told Bruce he would look into removing him from notifications "for anything but your sole, personal welfare, if you promise to remove my e-mail address from any more boorish correspondence you choose to send."
"Sometimes less really is more," Carey concluded.
Monday, Bruce said he was "shocked" by the unprofessional message, which he forwarded to Mayor John Suthers, City Council members and the media, sarcastically suggesting Carey be made head of public relations.
"It wasn't like I called him at home in the middle of the night," Bruce said. "If the guy can't handle getting an email from a citizen on his email server, then why is he the chief of police?"
Police spokesman Lt. Howard Black said such citizen criticism can be frustrating for everyone in the department.
"Here we had officers and detectives out trying to find this kiddo, who was autistic, high risk and out in severe weather," Black said. "We were doing everything we could do to find her."
The 15-year-old girl was reported missing about 6 p.m. Saturday after she reportedly walked away from a family get-together in the 5100 block of Laredo Ridge Drive. When heavy rain and hail was reported in Colorado Springs, police sent an Emergency Notification System alert to all residents within a 1-mile radius of Laredo Ridge Drive to help find her.
"What do you expect me to DO at midnight about some juvenile in the city who does not tell her parents where she is?" Bruce wrote to Carey. "I have no role in finding other people's thoughtless or runaway children."
Bruce compared the girl with the gentle alien from the hit film "E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial," except the teen "did not 'phone home.'"
"They shouldn't send them (alerts) out at all," Bruce told The Gazette. "I'm not a police officer."
The girl was found about 11 p.m. after huddling under a resident's tree and then knocking on their door for help, Black said, highlighting the importance of residents being alert and aware.
If residents are out and about, "then we have those additional eyes," Black said. "Just looking out their window can help. Is there anyone in the yard? Do you have covered areas where kids can hide? Has your dog been barking more than normal? That could mean someone's out there."
Said Bruce, "I think he (Carey) is upset I pointed out it's nonsense to bother citizens late at night."
Bruce, a former legislator and El Paso County commissioner, is best known as author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.. He was convicted in 2012 of three felonies: tax evasion, filing a false tax return and trying to influence a public servant. He was sentenced to six months in jail and six years of economic probation but was released from Denver County Jail after only 104 days on good behavior.
He was convicted last year of violating terms of that economic probation and was sentenced to two years in prison. He was released from Delta Correctional Facility on Sept. 3, after less than six months in prison, on a ruling by a Colorado parole board member who admitted he hadn't read Bruce's case file or his letter requesting clemency.