Monday, July 28, 2008


Housewife grateful for new diet exercise program

Fort Collins--Today, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department announced a new program to enable crime victims to participate in crime solving while losing weight. Citing a huge budget shortfall caused by an ever-increasing methamphetamine presence in the region, the task force assigned to examine funding came forward with a controversial proposal to stretch dollars: Let citizens do for themselves what really only trained professionals can.

A public relations firm, contracted with the County at a cost of $250,000 to taxpayers, came up with a catch phrase that would resonate with the public while reflecting the need to cut down on police services: Scale Down With Crime. Jonathon Rhodes, the president of Rhodes Public Relations, LLC, said that the choice to use the phrase seemed very clever to him one night while he was sitting on his sofa, drinking cherry cola. “It works on so many levels. First you have that scale of justice thing going, and then, of course, another way of thinking about scales, like getting on the scales like a prizefighter, really getting in there and doing it, and that’s our victim/consumer. And, of course, our catchphrase does address the fact that we really do have to cut back on our response to crime. We just don’t have the funding.”

Asked why the choice had been made not to use the image of Sisyphus pushing the rock endlessly up the mountain, only to have it roll back down, which had been shown to be the preferred image by a consumer panel comprised of those who had dealt with the Sheriff’s office and had complaints about responsiveness, Rhodes explained, “First of all, we don’t want the public to think that the Department is overly educated, which you would have to be to know anything about Greek mythology. Secondly, we didn’t want our victims who may actually understand Greek mythology, to think that they were, like Sisyphus, being somehow punished by the department by having to endlessly pursue deputies and beg for help. Plus, Sisyphus has sort of an unpleasant sound to it, combining ‘sissy’ which has a negative connotation and ‘phus.’ I’m not sure if phus is a word, but it does rhyme with pus.”

A spokesperson at the unveiling of the program, which took place at the County’s spacious Justice Center, explained, “We don’t want them to take a bite out of crime. Studies indicate that this association of crime with food may be partly responsible for the obesity epidemic. We decided to start with stalking victims because it provides the greatest long-term benefit, as stalkers can be extremely persistent, and it is the prolonged stress of dealing with these situations that leads to substantial and permanent weight loss.” Asked if this program was only available to victims of stalking, the spokesperson added, “We do think that we can move into the areas of carjacking and shoplifting, but we really see this as an extension of the anti-rape programs which feature physical and psychological training when dealing with that type of attacker. We have found that for those who have trouble with stick-to-it-ness, when it comes to physical fitness, fearing for your life is the missing link. Of course, we are in no position to actually provide training. This is a do-it-yourself program.”

Angie S. concurs. “I had tried every diet and exercise program, but I found them difficult to stick with,” said the mother of two. “I never really did lose the weight after my daughters were born, and it is hard to stay motivated. Being required to learn how to defend my property and children has been an incredible motivator. I’ve lost twelve pounds in just a month, and I haven’t even had to think about it!”

The program, an exciting partnership between Larimer County Sheriff’s Department and a helpful neighbor who finds exercising at night preferable, is not unlike a child’s game of hide and seek. Angie wakes up several times each night when her dog barks, and attempts to locate the neighbor on her property; several acres in the northern sector of the county. The neighbor, a trained marathoner, has developed techniques to elude Angie, in order to make the program more challenging and increase Angie’s endurance.

“At first, I have to admit, I was skeptical when the Department suggested that I reframe what I believed was a stalking and harassment issue into a fitness plan. I was wrong. Even though I am more tired than I have been at any point since my girls were infants, the increase in fitness has been well worth it.”

Angie, who believes that her neighbor has been stalking her for several years, said she understands that the Sheriff’s Department is critically understaffed. “At first, I was annoyed that they were so unhelpful and didn’t take my problem seriously. But with their coaching, I was able to see that I was actually participating in the process, my neighbor’s bizarre behavior was not a problem that needed to be solved by them, but that it was my patriotic privilege to run about at night without any help while she hid in the cornfield and taunted me by leaving little messages around my property.” Angie refused to identify what those messages were. “Let’s just say, they weren’t very nice.”

Assistant County Manager, Neil Gluckman, when asked whether a shortage of funds for crime solving was a problem in the County, responded that “Our office has absolutely no jurisdiction over the Sheriff’s office...the Sheriff is responsible for his own budget and chooses where to spend it.” The Commissioners had not yet taken an official stance on the Scale Down Through Crime program, but a secretary for the managers said that she thought that she would like to participate in the program if she were “lucky enough to get a stalker.”

A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, requesting anonymity, stated “We were excited to learn that it was possible to patent our program, and have appropriated funds to take Scale Down Through Crime national, although a partnership with other commercial weight loss programs is not out of the question. We have had several inquiries from other interested counties in Colorado which feel that this could be the answer to their budgetary constraints as well.”

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