Civilians investigate in Avon |

Civilians investigate in Avon

Sarah Mausolf
Avon, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyCean Whitmarsh, left, detective Aurion Hassinger, holding flashlight, Stephanie Whitmarsh, Todd DeJong, and Carlos Abel investigate a notepad during a mock crime scene investigation Wednesday at the Avon Police Department.

AVON, Colorado – Street smarts guided Arthur Pinedo as he scanned the crime scene. The Avon area resident was looking at two fake guns littering the floor of the Avon police chief’s office.

“First of all, I noticed two weapons, one there and one here, two shells, a shirt that’s bloody – who would have had the shirt on?” he mused.

Pinedo was investigating a fake crime scene during the first night of Avon Police Department’s citizen’s police academy.

A dozen civilians got a taste on Wednesday of how police investigate crimes. Police outlined a pretend shooting – an employee claims his supervisor shot him in the arm, then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.

“Doesn’t sound like suicide to me,” said Avon resident William West said as he glanced around the office.

When the class found faint indentations on a pad of paper, Detective Aurion Hassinger showed them a police trick for how to read it. He switched off the lights, shined a flashlight at an angle on the paper, and illuminated the writing. Scrawled there was damning evidence – a note the supervisor wrote about his employee stealing thousands of dollars from the cash register.

Markings around bullet holes on T-shirts splattered with fake blood also showed the supervisor was shot from 6 feet away, hardly a suicide scenario.

The class was the first of five workshops police will offer for citizens through the end of the month.

Police launched the academy to build a bridge between the police department and the community, chief Brian Kozak said.

Sixteen Avon residents are enrolled in the citizen’s police academy. Police ran background checks on applicants and issued them T-shirts.

During classes, citizens will learn everything from how to do breath tests on drunks to how to diffuse a hostage crisis. On the final day of class, the students will try shooting guns at a range north of Wolcott.

“If anyone owns a gun, we’ll talk about how to store it and keep it safe,” Kozak said.

The academy attracted a diverse group.

Pinedo, 53, said he moved with his children to the Avon area from a rough neighborhood in California. Avon appealed to him because it wasn’t infested with gangs and drugs – and he wants to keep it that way.

“I’m looking forward for a career in law enforcement,” he said. “This is kind of a foot in the door, so to speak.”

Avon resident Gustavo Bronfield, 21, works security for the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. He looks forward to shooting the guns and learning more about law enforcement.

“I feel like it’s related to my job and hopefully it could teach me something,” he said.

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