Wandering Inside Boulder’s Safety Bubble

Going into this assignment, I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to find many people on campus and on the Hill willing to express their opinions about crime and safety in Boulder; specifically, whether they’d feel comfortable putting their names on a story that involves the local police.

As it turned out, the folks I approached were by and large happy to speak to me.

My first stop was the Center for Community on campus, where the consistent sentiment is that Boulder is a very safe place to live.  Ruben Vega, a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in structural engineering, believes that Boulder provides a pretty safe environment.  He attributes some of disturbances to young people who just get themselves into bad situations.  “My mother always told me that if you stay out of trouble you won’t have any reason to get in trouble.”

While agreeing with the general idea that Boulder is a safe place to live, 22-year-old student employee Jack Pine doesn’t believe police are blameless for their negative interactions with the community.  “They’re too aggressive right off the bat.”  This, he says, creates unnecessary tension. However, he also believes that most local police officers do their job professionally, and it’s the actions of a few officers that gives the rest a bad rap.

Ted Murray, a 61-year-old Boulder resident, says that the one outstanding issue to him about policing is the way the homeless are being treated.  “They [Boulder police] don’t seem to have a lot of compassion.”  He believes that the mistreatment has gotten worse over the three years he’s lived here.

Will Heskett is manning the security desk in the Center for Community, and when I asked to get his take on it he was very polite and forthright, but asked that I not record the audio for the meeting.  I happily obliged, as I want to make sure my interview subject feels comfortable talking to me. Heskett is a 22-year-old Community Safety Officer, and says that a local issue that concerns him is the party culture in Boulder.  He sees it as a “culture of preying on students, particularly younger women.”

Later on, I spoke to 22-year-old Jillian Yares while she was waiting for lunch on the Hill.  She shared a story of a friend who went to a party a few years back who passed out after drinking one shot and woke up in a strange man’s bed.  She thinks the issue of sexual assault needs to be taken seriously, and it’s a more complex issue than people may believe.  “When people you know are involved, it’s hard.”

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