Controversial Colorado Ped Patrol Sparks Concerns Over Vigilante Tactics

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — Adam Niman found himself in a dangerous situation when he was featured on the Colorado Ped Patrol YouTube Channel as a would-be predator in a live-streamed “catch” in September 2022.

In the video, Tommy Fellows chased Niman while making threats and eventually falling in a culvert after Niman turned around and pointed a knife at him. Fellows, the founder of Colorado Ped Patrol, claimed that Niman had been lured to a 7-Eleven convenience store, thinking he was meeting a 13-year-old girl.

Instead of being arrested for internet luring of a minor, Niman was charged with felony menacing. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor menacing and received two years probation for threatening Fellows with a knife.

Sgt. David Porter of the Weld County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged the potential danger of Colorado Ped Patrol’s tactics, stating that individuals suspected of crimes can react violently. However, Porter also noted that his deputies couldn’t arrest Niman for internet luring due to a lack of evidence and coordination with Fellows.

The online followers of Colorado Ped Patrol have since harassed Niman relentlessly, both online and over the phone. Despite his own actions, Niman hopes that people will consider the impact on his relatives and employer, who have also become targets of harassment.

The effects of Colorado Ped Patrol’s livestreams are not limited to the individuals directly involved. Innocent bystanders, such as a single mom living in a duplex targeted during a “catch,” have also experienced the consequences. The mom and her family received verbal abuse and harassment from online followers who did not distinguish between her and the intended target.

Fellows employs various coercion tactics in his confrontations, promising not to involve the police and using lies to manipulate individuals. However, law enforcement agencies, such as the Broomfield Police Department, do not condone these tactics, as they place individuals at legal and physical risk.

Critics of Fellows openly mock him and the Colorado Ped Patrol on their own YouTube channels. One critic, James Thompson, had a permanent protection order granted against him after Fellows claimed Thompson made a death threat in one of his satirical videos. Thompson maintains that he never made such a threat and argues that Fellows is attempting to silence his critics.

Despite the online following and financial support that Fellows receives, law enforcement officials like Sgt. Porter argue that his actions do not contribute to catching predators. Instead, they provide entertainment for viewers without achieving the stated goal.

In conclusion, the Colorado Ped Patrol’s controversial tactics have drawn criticism and raised valid concerns about safety and the potential for false accusations. While their intentions may be well-meaning, the consequences of their actions extend beyond the individuals they target and have the potential to cause harm to innocent bystanders.