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12.24.2009

denver police issues emergency cell phones to refugees

Some disturbing news out of Denver, where the South Asian community is concerned about recent a series of attacks targeting recent immigrants from Bhutan, Burma and elsewhere.

The problem has gotten so bad, police have given out 911-enabled cell phones to the community: Denver cops give 911-only cellphones to refugees worried about recent attacks.

Earlier this month, a group of men beat and robbed teenage refugees from Bhutan in east Denver, after following them from a bus. Six were beaten, with one sustaining injuries requiring emergency room treatment. This apparently isn't the first the community has faced assaults and robberies this year.

The U.S. government granted the refugees special permission to enter the country as protection from persecution in Asia. So they come to Denver... for this? To get robbed and beaten? I'm sure this isn't what they were expecting.

But now they have cell phones. The hope is that the police-issued emergency-only phones, which require no payments, will help refugees reach paramedics and police to prevent future trouble. A dozen refugee victims of recent attacks now carry the phones.

Police are talking with a potential corporate partner to supply 50 phones, and ultimately, they aim to give phones to all refugees, along with orientation information and safety tips. That's great, I guess. Every little bit helps. But how about catching the guys who are doing the robbing and beating?