I have a guilty pleasure and it's not sitting on the couch eating bon-bons, even though that could be arranged. It's Lt. Joe Kenda of Investigation Discovery's true crime show--Lt. Joe Kenda: Homicide Hunter.
The odd thing is I just discovered Kenda a few months ago when channel surfing. It's a bonus that I lived in Colorado Springs for over 20 years, where Kenda solved almost 400 homicides.
We rolled into town just about the time Kenda was retiring from his stellar career, so we'd never heard of the detective until a few months ago.
For those not familiar with Colorado Springs, it is perhaps one of the country's most scenic mid-sized towns, nestled closer to the Rockies than Denver. The town exudes beauty, art, history and a friendly spirit.
Who knew what evil lurked under the surface of that fair town.
The other day I was working at a small shop in another part of Colorado and a browser came in. She and her friend were in southern Colorado on a work assignment and live in Aurora. For those not familiar with Colorado, Aurora is a suburb of Denver. While Aurora has very ritzy areas and fine people, parts of the suburb are among the roughest in Denver metro. At least that was my opinion based on the evening news when I lived in Denver metro.
Out of the blue, this Aurora resident brings up Joe Kenda. She is delighted when I tell her that I am one of his biggest fans, even though I just discovered him a few months ago.
She said," I'm telling everyone I know about Kenda and about Investigation Discovery channel. I believe everyone should watch a few of these true crime shows, just as a warning as to what is really happening in order to protect oneself. I mean, look, Colorado is portrayed as one of the safest places to live and if all this was happening in Colorado Springs...well..."
I couldn't agree with her more.
I was under the delusion that Colorado Springs had very low crime for a town of its size. And I suppose it does.
But several years ago, as a juror, I spent nearly three months in the El Paso County courthouse with my fellow jurors intently watching over 100 witnesses, including members of the FBI, CBI, ATF, Colorado Springs Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff's office testify.
It was not just the trial that changed my mind about what lurks under a very wonderful city. It was going through security and metal detectors everyday and rubbing shoulders with obvious gang members and criminals and seeing their demeanor. I learned how to read gang tattoos and gang tags, as a gang tag actually appeared in the courthouse.
I was talking to a courthouse janitor, who told me not to worry, and to tell my fellow jurors not to worry about our safety--because if I ever saw the security in the courthouse, I would be amazed.
But somehow all that security didn't prevent a gang banger from spraying a wall.
But it was really Joe Kenda that opened my eyes to the violence and nature of some people.
In our house, Kenda is a bit of a hero. He reminds me a bit of one of my other heroes, Winston Churchill.
Watching Kenda the last few months, brought me back to my months as a juror. When the guilty verdict was read in our double-homicide case, I was watching the faces of the attorneys and the defendant, of course. Basically there was little facial reaction from them. But the lead homicide detective, who sat at the prosecutor's table most every day, nearly cried. He quickly regained his stoic expression. And then, I realized that most law enforcement authorities take it very personally. It is more than a job.
It's obvious it was with Kenda.
I just recently discovered that Kenda is a bit of a marketing machine on his Facebook page. I say amen to that. He earned that right.
A bonus, besides Kenda's deadpan delivery and witticisms is the actor (also a real former law enforcement officer) Carl Marino, who plays the younger Kenda. Since I'm talking guilty pleasures, the fellow is pretty easy on the eyes and a compelling actor.
Yes, we at True Story Club love our true stories, including true crime. And especially Joe Kenda. It isn't often you find reality TV that alternately makes you chuckle and makes you think deep thoughts because Kenda knows how to condense the worst of human nature into a learning experience.
One of my favorite Kenda quotes: " If you're going to be a liar, you should at least have the decency to be good at it."
Yeah, Kenda! That's always been my major beef with criminals. Especially career criminals. At least be good at it--including lying.
Ah, but most of all, I love Kenda's walk-softly-and-carry-a-big-stick approach. Kenda was mentioning that most alleged criminals expect the police to yell at them. But Kenda said he didn't raise his voice, because it's much scarier to people when he was arresting them to say in a very low voice that if they didn't do what he said, he's kill them right then and now.
"And they always believed me," Kenda said.
Ya know what? I believe you too, Lt. Kenda. And you are just one reason I believe in the power of good law enforcement.