ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — After a Contact Denver7 story about delayed crime victim notification the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office has offered the beginning of an apology, saying "If he was given wrong information, then we apologize for it."
After defending the actions initially, Ginger Delgado, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said the office is now reviewing the incident to prevent it from happening again.
Two weeks ago, a crime victim reached out to Contact Denver7 to report an $800 impound bill to retrieve his stolen car, which he said he had not been notified was in impound for nearly two weeks.
Arapahoe County deputies found Charles Webb's stolen car and immediately called him and knocked on his door at 3 a.m. Webb did not hear the call or the door knock, but said the next day when he called back, he received incorrect information.
"She said my car had not been found. She told me 'if your car is found, we will contact you.' I left a message with the investigator and went about my business," Webb said.
"If he says that he was told that the car wasn't found, then we apologize for that because that's not true," Delgado said. "The car was found at three o'clock in the morning, and so he should have been told that the car was located."
Webb said he also left two messages with the investigator who he later learned was on vacation.
"We try our best," Delgado said. "He's a great investigator. It just so happens that, unfortunately, he didn't return the call quickly, and so the victim was a little upset about that. And, you know, we apologize, that's all I can say."
Delgado maintained that after a car is towed, the sheriff's office has no responsibility to notify the crime victim, which sounds all too familiar to Sterling Harris with the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance.
"What we're experiencing is that there's a lot of finger pointing," Harris said. "What I do know is that it's typical of what we hear over and over and over again. There's not a good systemic response. So, people like the Webbs are always going to fall through the cracks."
Harris says crime victims are often caught between tow companies that do not work for free and law enforcement strapped for resources and focused on violent crime.
In previous years, State Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, put forth legislation to collect data on crime victim impound fees and to create a statewide fund to assist, but COVID-19 cut off the effort.
"I believe they should probably reimburse the guy the 800 bucks, or at least a portion of it," Sullivan said.
He says that despite the wave of violent crime in Arapahoe County, law enforcement must still handle the mundane phone calls to crime victims.
"It's not all about chasing down the bad guys. It's helping people out through difficult days. That's what they're supposed to be doing, too, and I think they've lost focus of that," Sullivan said.
While Delgado apologized for the inaccurate information and delayed response from investigators, the sheriff's office decided not to hold an internal investigation and has no intention of reimbursing Webb.
"We don't reimburse people for towing fees," Delgado said. "We feel bad when anyone has to pay for towing fees, especially $800 in towing fees. That's a burden on anybody, and so we don't want this to happen again. And so we'll definitely review what needs to be reviewed, and we'll come up with some results."
Meanwhile, Webb said he has been filling out forms for victims assistance and hoping the sheriff's office does make changes.
"I'm glad they are accepting some blame," Webb said. "Hopefully, this will actually change some of their policies and procedures so this doesn't happen to anybody else."
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