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THIS WEEK IN REVIEW .... October 7, 2010
This weeks Reporter-Don Smith

news_l3.gif  Bob Buckland      news_l4.jpg  Geoff Strohn        news_l5.gif   Doug Harder

Quote:   “According to a recent survey women are more comfortable undressing in front of a man rather than in front of another women. Women are to judgmental, where as, men are just weeelll grateful.” Robert De Niro

Guests:   Rick Jacobus introduced Dennis Reynolds, a friend of the program.

Fines:  n/a

Announcements:   Dean reported Gus is in a wheel chair and going through therapy. Weekend visits are possible but you need to call ahead. Gus is anxious to get back to lunch.

Ed Bezjak gave his “Keno Combine” results. Starting with $585 and 117 entries, there were 127 chances, then 81, then 35. He came back with $35 and donated to the club foundation. Oh well, better luck next time.

Pat McKim reported the 2nd annual Arapahoe Sertoma Poker night is getting organized and will held around Feb, Mar or Apr. next year.

Ken Kelley mentioned a fund raiser will be held Richard Burton, who was struck by lightning. Either individual or club donations are being considered. More later.

Englewood Chamber of Commerce luncheon is on Oct 19th. Cost $20 but club picks up half. Reservation deadline is Oct 5th. Howie Kelsall will have an honorable mention there. Meridian Retirement Center, 3455 S. Corona St. 11:30am. There is NO lunch on the 14th. The Board also voted to pay for any of Howie Kelsall's family that attends the Englewood Chamber luncheon where he will have honorable mention.

Will Martinez has King Soopers coupons. The club receives 5% but only 4 people regularly use the service. The card is like a debit card so it’s easy to use.



Will Martinez spoiled the day by passing out quarterly dues invoices, then went on to report he was born May 28, 1926 in Berthoud, CO. He attended North High School and graduated age 18 in 1944. He enrolled in Denver University, but joined the Navy where he eventually wound up on the U.S.S. Shields DD-596, a new destroyer and served in the Pacific Theater until 1946. He returned to DU and graduated in 1950. He was pulled back into service during the Korean war in October 1951 and discharged in April 1953.

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Will was married to Marle in May 28th, 1948 and was with her for 60-1/2 years and they had 2 daughters, 8 grand kids and 8 great grand kids. He worked at Gates Rubber Co. until 1960, when he joined Martin Marietta. He worked on Titan missiles and the Sky Lab and also the external fuel tanks. Will retired January 1, 1989. He has been a hard working Arapahoe Sertoman for many years, serving in many capacities. He was brought into the club by Norm Schillo.


Program:  Rick Jacobus introduced Art Winstanley, author of “Burglars in Blue”, memoir of The Denver Police Scandal.

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Art Winstanley was two different people.

To his friends and neighbors in southeast Denver, he was Art Winstanley, the cop.

But to his buddies on the Denver police force, he was also Art Winstanley, the burglar. He broke into stores he was sworn to serve and protect, still wearing his uniform, and was caught only after a 300-pound safe tumbled out of the trunk of his 1953 Chevrolet.

That was more than four decades ago.

Winstanley was just 24, one of the youngest cops on the force.

His arrest and confession in the early 1960s exposed a massive Denver police burglary ring that began operating just after World War II. The ensuing grand jury probe, investigations and trials rocked the city for more than five years and tainted several other metro jurisdictions.

More than 50 cops were arrested. About 40 were convicted and most of those were sent to the state penitentiary, including Winstanley, who spent nearly a decade behind bars. Their convictions depleted the Denver force by 7 percent.

Since then, police scandals have come and gone, but none have humiliated the city like the burglary scandal of the 1960s. Two networks televised documentaries and national magazines, such as Life and the Saturday Evening Post, published lengthy articles. At the time, it was the biggest police scandal in U.S. history.

Whatever happened to the burglars in blue?

Some have died. Others are old men now, living out their final days in relative quiet. One owns a trucking business in the mountains. One is a welder and another is a janitor. Several live in nursing homes. Many left Denver and slipped into obscurity.

But Winstanley, the first one arrested, tried and convicted, the one whose name is most closely associated with the scandal, stayed.

'I'm a pretty good person'

On a recent Saturday morning, Art Winstanley greets a visitor to his Aurora home - a reporter who wants to talk about the darkest days in the history of the Denver Police Department - with a giant bear hug.

``Good to see you!'' he says jubilantly.

He is wearing a denim shirt with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it. He goes into his bright kitchen, where he sips orange juice and proudly points out the place mats embroidered by his fourth wife, Thais, a retired Denver Public Schools teacher.

``I've been married to her longer than the other three wives combined,'' Winstanley says with a twinkle in his eye.

Today, at 66, Winstanley lives in a neat subdivision where all the houses are well kept. Large American flags adorn many of the lawns, including Winstanley's.

Winstanley's world is as different today as he is from the young cop who altered Denver's history. He retired two years ago after 18 years as an operator for the Aurora Water Treatment plant. He is a registered Republican who calls himself Johnny Straight Arrow. His closest brush with the law in the past three decades, he said, was a few traffic tickets.

``I'm probably more stable than the Average Joe,'' he said. ``I pay my bills. I go to bed at night. I feed my dog. I'm a pretty good citizen, a pretty good person.''

Winstanley said he has kept in touch with a few of his fellow cop burglars, ``but I don't think you'll get any of the other guys to talk to you. They want to leave this alone. They want to let it die. It's too bad of a memory.''

But Winstanley is different.

``I'm not going to cover my head and put it in the sand,'' said Winstanley, who confessed to 18 burglaries. ``It happened and we need to look at it and face up to it.

``We can't change what happened, but we can learn from it and deal with it.''

And so, Winstanley bares all. For four hours, he talks about how he became a cop and then a safecracker, about his life in prison where there were so many ex-Denver cops that they actually had their own softball team called the Cops 'n' Robbers.

He describes the three attempts on his life in prison and the murderer who became his closest friend.

He chronicles the three decades since his arrest: his four marriages, his alcoholism, his numerous menial jobs, including the one where he was fired for not revealing his criminal past.

Winstanley also tells how he eventually began speaking publicly about his shady background. In recent years, he has given dozens of talks at churches and colleges, still trying to answer the most frequently asked question: Could this happen again?

And in the midst of all his memories, Winstanley apologizes, albeit to victims long since dead.

``There were a lot of people who paid a heavy price who didn't deserve it,'' Winstanley said. ``I'm mostly sorry about the good policemen who were trying to do the right thing and suffered so bad.

``I've always felt ashamed about that.''

Old newspaper clippings - reams and reams chronicling Winstanley's arrest and two-week trial - describe him as ``baby-faced.'' Sitting in his kitchen, Winstanley still presents a …

Crime: Burglars in Blue
Friday, Oct 13, 1961

Denver's burglary binge was stunning.

The Happy Cat Tavern was hit for $2,000 and two cases of whisky. From the Reese House restaurant, $4,000 was stolen. The U.S. Loan Co. lost $7,250. There were scores of others, and finally $40,000 was swiped from a Safeway supermarket on Denver's south side in one of the biggest thefts in the city's history. Denver screamed for the police to do something.

The cops, it turned out, already had: by last weekend, no fewer than 35 of Denver's police force had been fingered as the actual burglars. In all, over a seven-year period, the burglars in blue had committed at least 129 crimes.

The Ring. Denver's burgling cops were well organized and enjoyed obvious advantages. They cased jobs from police cars, returned at night to steal while lookouts monitored the police radio for alarm calls. Once the burglaries were discovered, the same policemen came back officially to investigate, were able to destroy any leftover evidence. In one case, an insurance company investigator discovered a pair of policeman's trousers near a burglary scene. Two city detectives confiscated the evidence ; the pants disappeared forever.

In the Safeway burglary, the police knew that extra cash was in the store. The crooked cops carefully surveyed the one-story, yellow brick building during the day. A few nights later, three policemen jimmied the aluminum front door. A police car stopped across the street as lookout; one of the three burglars remained by the store window to watch for a flashing-headlight danger signal. At the safe, his two companions worked with a carborundum wheel, cooled it with cartons of milk. In 90 minutes the safe was cracked.

The Failure. Last week, as the disgraced cops paraded before his disgusted gaze, at the State Capitol, Colorado's Democratic Governor Stephen McNichols, a onetime FBI man, explained that the ring had sprung from a single group in the south Denver district. When gang members were transferred to other districts, new members were recruited.

There were few failures—but one of them led to the burglars' downfall. Cruising one night in April 1960, Patrolman John D. Bates saw burglars leave a 17th Street coffee shop. When Bates chased the getaway car, a safe fell out of the trunk; the man who came back to retrieve it turned out to be a policeman. Bates told his story to Chief James E. Childers, passed on department rumors that a dozen policemen were cracking safes. He was ordered to see a psychiatrist. When the psychiatrist reported Bates was eminently sane and was probably telling the truth, the police department began an investigation. It lasted almost a year, and it was found that the corruption spread beyond Denver's city limits. The sheriff of neighboring Adams County was arrested, and five sheriff's officers were nabbed in adjacent Arapahoe County.

As of last week, the Denver scandal seemed almost cleaned up. Said Governor McNichols: "We think we have the hard core:" Chief Childers, under severe criticism for his laxity, resigned, and a top-to-bottom overhaul began.

Because the burglars had systematically faked police records, no one was able to say exactly how much had been taken over the years; the Safeway supermarket chain alone estimated it had lost $125,000. With many of its veteran cops in jail, the Denver 778-man police department was hard put to keep up patrols; 28 rookies with only two weeks' experience were rushed into regular duty. But worse than the shortage was the loss of faith that Denver had in its police. When two cops cruised up to a housing project last week, a group of workmen yelled: "We got to lock up our cars. Cops are in the neighborhood."

For a copy of his book, contact Art. (303) 680-3494 or       Hear the program:

Upcoming programs:
Oct 21: Robert Schenken VP Colo Public Radio
Oct 28: Congressman Mike Coffman

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     Upcoming SOD list
Oct 21 – Regular Meeting & BOD SOD Dick Mason
Oct 28 – Regular Meeting – SOD Pat McKim

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