Are Denver process servers safe? The Denver Private Investigator Blog talks process server safety with Tom Mills - part 1
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
DENVER - I'm sipping coffee in a beryl-blue-gray vinyl restaurant booth in Capitol Hill's Jelly cafe as Tom Mills steps through the door. Mills' story was brought to my attention by 9News' Kyle Clark and Anastasiya Bolton. Colorado process servers and private investigators are reassessing safety practices and deliberating on how best to minimize risk, following the coverage, which I summarized in a November 27, 2017 blog post.
After ordering a glass of water --diabetes symptoms were prohibiting coffee-- Mills thoughtfully reviews the printout of questions I’ve handed him. Before starting the interview, I want to know how he’s been doing since the November 6, 2017 Commerce City, Colorado serve that turned into a life threatening situation.
The day of the serve, Mills drove to Adams county to serve papers to Bret Martin Carbone --who also happens to be a Denver Sheriff's deputy. Carbone lied, telling Mills he was just there to take care of the dogs, however, Mills didn't buy it. After returning to his car to verify Carbone's identity on Facebook, Mills returned to Carbone's house to complete the serve. As anyone who has seen the widely posted and shared video knows, Carbone opened the door, pointing a gun at Mills and telling him to get off of his property.
See also: Felony menacing charge issued to the Denver Deputy who pulled a gun on a Colorado private investigator
Despite the threat to his life, Mills actually did manage to complete the serve. "Got in my car shaking like crazy. I already have high blood pressure," he explained. He called the police who arrived just as Carbone was trying to drive away. The police had to order Carbone out of his vehicle and disarm him in order to make the surprise discovery that the perpetrator of the felony menacing charge also happened to be a sheriff's deputy.
Mills is now being treated for post traumatic stress disorder. He is no longer doing evening and night serves. Although Mills is a military vet who served overseas, he did not have PTSD prior to the November 6, 2017 serve.
Carbone is now being charged with felony menacing. The case was moved from a local to a district court because of the seriousness of the charge and the next hearing will take place in a district court on January 29th. Two of the female process servers who worked for Mills quit immediately following the incident citing safety concerns. As he now only serves papers during the daytime, when it’s safer, Mills' income has also taken a hit.
Mills is not the first Colorado process server to have a gun pointed in him. Process Servers Association of America President, Steve Glenn had found himself in an almost identical situation when serving papers, however because Glenn had no video evidence and "it was all he said, she said," Mills explained, there were no grounds for pressing legal charges in Glenn's situation because he did not video record his serve.
For the benefit of every process server reading this, I ask Mills to demonstrate how he records his serves discreetly. Mills holds his phone in front of the clipboard he carries with him when he does his serves. For purposes of a photo demo (below) he holds his phone in front of the paper I handed him with the interview questions printed out.
If you are a process server reading this and you do not video record your serves, please begin doing so immediately. No need to invest in special equipment. All you need is a phone, a clip board and/or piece paper, as shown in the photo below.
(end of part 1)
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