I know, for a fact, that if you google my name there are four or five of my counterparts that spring up. And there are some odd similarities that spring up, there is another Nathan Swanson in Colorado, two who went to colleges that I considered. I’ve never met any of them, but the fact that there are a number of people with the same name and some similarities to my life is always fascinating.
Fascinating, till it turns problematic. It seems that the Denver Police Department has a little problem with mistaken identity, and the ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit, demanding the city fix a broken system where the police throw people who are clearly not the criminals in jail. And I mean clearly, like not fitting the description of the accused, or not having the tattoos and known features of the accused, or having different names.
Driving to work today, I was listening to a segment about this very case on the news, and I heard a Denver official state, and I’m paraphrasing, something to the effect of that there needed to be a balance between ensuring that innocent people are not hassled and guilty people are not released. Except there is no balance; there are basic precepts of our justice system that are being ignored here. Chief among them “innocent till proven guilty” and “rather 100 guilty men go free then 1 innocent be punished.” The DPD seems to think that once they have someone, then it is wrong to let that person go until every doubt is removed as to their identity. But that is just the opposite of what the police should be doing, they should not be arresting people unless they have no doubt what so ever that this
is the person they want. To do anything else is, and I say this with only a little bit of melodrama and hyperbole, utterly un-American.
Nathan T. Swanson
JD Candidate, 2009
University of Denver