May 21, 2013 1:23 AM by Tony Spehar - firstname.lastname@example.org
A Pueblo activist group patrolling their east side neighborhood on Sunday chased down a man they believed to be a suspect who exposed himself to a child and sexually assaulted another, in explaining their actions they heavily criticized the Pueblo Police Department.
On Monday, the American Indian Movement rallied at Mitchell Park in Pueblo. The group has taken to making patrols in the neighborhoods around the park after numerous incidents involving sexual offenses against children including a sexual assault in late April.
"We don't want to be out here, we don't want to have to do anything because now our lives are in danger," explained member Rudy Reddog. "Our warriors, our young people are in this park today as long as it takes to do whatever we have to to protect our children."
On Sunday afternoon Reddog and other members of the group searched the neighborhood for a man who had recently been involved in two sexual offenses against children. Reddog said one of the victims identified a man in the neighborhood as the suspect, when the group approached the man a chase ensued near the intersection of Ninth and Portland.
"All we did was went to go approach him and he took off running, scared," he described. "Our warriors detained him non-violently until the police were there to arrest him."
When police arrived they took the supposed suspect into custody for questioning. Reddog, identified by police as Radolpho Balles, was arrested for interference because officers said he became belligerent with them.
Police said on Monday that, so far, it appears the man the group had chased had nothing to do with the incidents and was released on Sunday.
"That party is not a sexual predator, he is not on any database, he has never been reported as one and he is cooperating with us," explained Deputy Chief Andrew MacLachlan.
MacLachlan said the 54-year-old man had voluntarily submitted DNA samples to investigators.
According to Reddog the incident on Sunday stemmed from the police not releasing descriptions of suspects or details regarding crimes against children in the neighborhood and long response time from officers. On Friday, it took police about an hour to respond to an attempted abduction of a child near Mitchell Park.
However, police officials said that when the attempted abduction call came in the child was safe in their home and the suspect had left the area. At the same time multiple incidents, including a house fire and a fatal car accident, stretched the department's manpower to its limit.
"We would've loved to have them there sooner, but we were also dealing with a lot of very resource intensive calls at the time," said Deputy Chief MacLachlan.
MacLachlan said the police department is investigating all the incidents involving children around Mitchell Park and don't believe the same suspect is responsible for all of them. He also cautioned that incidents like the one involving the American Indian Movement on Sunday only create legal difficulties for prosecutors and identification of suspects should be left in the hands of police.
For Rudy Reddog and members of his group the answers from police weren't good enough, he said they will continue to push for change and better enforcement around their neighborhoods.
"Because we shouldn't have to be out here in the rain and the thunder having to protect our kids in the street from these sickos," he said.
Reddog said his group is campaigning for the creation of a citizen's police review board to oversee the Pueblo Police Department and investigate complaints against officers.