Letters from the week of February 19, 2004

Word for word, he relayed facts and expressed the frustrated point of view of the police (and fellow corrections officers). He wrote about everything that the police felt during this time, which was mainly failure at not being allowed to rescue the corrections officers. I know the governor was concerned about loss of life of our men; however, they train extensively and are paid extra to train for these types of situations! If they are not going to be used, then what is their role in law enforcement? If I were a widow writing this right now, I would be proud and comforted to know that my husband fulfilled his duty to "protect and serve."

I am not alone in this thought, because the wives discussed this daily for two weeks, as we traveled through the emotions of the ordeal of our men and women, of the trapped woman all alone, and of her fellow colleague who could not rest upon his release because he knew her torment.

The governor and the DOC director are trying to protect their political futures more than they ever tried to protect the brutalized man and savagely raped woman in the tower. I hope that this situation gets fully investigated, because this is a huge case of incompetence, negligence and extreme liability. I pray for the victims' recoveries and hope that they both pursue every avenue of compensation.

Rachael Babinchak

Lack of leadership: Thank you! Finally something accurate from the media about the prison hostage crisis. I worked for that outfit for more than eight years, eventually resigning as a CO IV (program's equivalent of a security captain). I knew the cronyism and incompetence of the administrators would lead to something terrible, and it did.

The lack of real leadership in ADOC began long before the current director took the post; it began with Terry Stewart and Chuck Ryan. They were the ones who groomed the current wardens and deputy wardens to be loyal followers in their good-ol'-boy network. I completely understand why the ADOC brass couldn't make a decision on how to end this ordeal. They weren't trained to make decisions on their own, or how to manage people. Chuck Ryan's philosophy was that people are dispensable, prisons should run on written policy alone with robot-minded staff unquestioningly enforcing the policy. And yes, the hostage-taker inmates have to be sent out of state, because they would be a constant reminder of how they embarrassed the politicians and top ADOC brass.

Now the mainstream media are crying in their beer because they got duped. They are whining that ADOC isn't releasing information after the media played along with them so well. Yes, there is a lot of blame to go around with this tragedy. I just noticed that you left a few folks out: Stewart, Ryan and all the current spineless administrators who benefited from being part of the old gang.

A deputy warden once told his staff that most of his correctional officers weren't qualified to work at Circle K. What became apparent from this hostage situation is that top ADOC prison officials aren't qualified to manage a Circle K. What a shame!

Alex Seigla

Damage Control
Justice isn't served: It appears that a great travesty of justice was inflicted on Shawn Dirks ("Molecular Damage," Paul Rubin, February 5). My feeling is that it is very plausible that the Mesa DNA lab made a cross-contamination error in the samples, or the lab technician just made a mistake in the various stages of analysis and documentation, or that Mr. Dirks transferred a small amount of the woman's DNA to himself while going to the bathroom.

All the other parts of this story do not support the version of events by this woman with a history of apparent mental illness and being a very "twisted" person. If the allegations had been brought by a credible woman in the community, Mr. Dirks' position would be very bad indeed.

To think a brand-new police officer with a sterling history in his own life, when he now has the milestone in his new career of being out alone in his patrol car for the very first time (this would have to be a very big event for him personally), is going to anally rape a woman, then arrest her and take her to the police station for booking and give her the perfect opportunity to report the "rape," is ludicrous to believe. If he had raped her, he would have cut her loose and hoped she did not report it and ruin his first shift going solo, and, oh, by the way, his life and career.

For the Phoenix Police Department to hang its hat on her story is shameful and laughable.

Jeff Speer
Via e-mail

Indecent exposure: I had to e-mail my comments on this article. I would not normally read such a long article for something that happened in Arizona, but I read with disbelief how a less than stellar person could so easily destroy the life of a decent human being. Police officer Shawn Dirks' life was destroyed for being a good person. The real crime here is that the person who did this is being recognized as honest about the situation and, with her background, this legitimizing her false accusations encourages her and others to use this ploy far, far, far too often across this country. It is really scary how fragile our lives really are.

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