Cop’s 30 years in Vail: one murder, lots of bar fights
VAIL, Colorado ” Sgt. Kurt Mulson has seen the mundane ” speeders on the interstate and pukers in the Transportation Center.
He’s seen grisly ” he worked Vail’s last murder, more than two decades ago.
He’s seen the outrageous, including a memorable Halloween costume cum performance-art exhibition.
But, more than anything, he’s seen bar fights.
“Thousands,” he said. “Especially in the early years.”
And what have these people been fighting over for three decades?
“Dumb things,” Mulson said. “‘You looked at me the wrong way.’ ‘You spilled my date’s drink when you bumped into her.’ ‘You owe me money.'”
Mulson is retiring later this month after 30 years with the Vail Police Department. He’s worn a Vail police badge longer than anyone else.
“It goes really quick,” he said. “And it was a lot of fun.”
He joined the police force in 1977 after answering a help-wanted ad in the Denver Post. He’d previously worked as a clerk for the Denver police.
Mulson was born in New York and grew up in London and Florida. After attending college at the University of Denver, he, admittedly, was a “pot-smoking, long-haired hippie” who aspired to be a disc jockey.
But police work proved to be a more stable vocation for Mulson and his family. And he thought the mountains would be a good place to raise his daughters, so he took the job in Vail.
Back then, there were so few cops ” and the bars were so rowdy ” they had to rely on locals to help them out. There was even an informal group called the Vail Vigilantes that were known to detain suspects until the police arrived.
In the bars, international tourists mixed with miners from Gilman and cowboys from Eagle.
“Sometimes it was violent, and sometimes it was plain funny,” he said.
And, of course, he’s seen immense growth in this county.
But some things haven’t changed. There’s still the same nightly shuffle of bar-goers up and down Bridge Street. The “freshman class” still shows at the beginning of every winter. And locals still have a good relationship with the police, he said.
Mulson’s written his share of speeding tickets. The fastest car he caught was going 107 mph. It was a Nissan. He can’t remember what model.
He’s even been shot at a couple of times, once by Idaho runaways he was pursuing in a high-speed chase on I-70, and once by a drug-addled East Vail man.
And he has some humorous memories, too.
One Halloween, he saw a huge commotion in the middle of Bridge Street. Running toward it, he thought it was a fight, or worse. Turns out, it was a man and woman who had dressed as an electrical plug and an outlet, respectively. Their routine was to run together, upon which a big light would illuminate.
“I was pretty relieved,” Mulson said.
Mulson’s last day is Nov. 25. His mind wants to keep working, but his body is telling him it’s time to call it quits.
“We have some very, very sharp younger officers,” said Mulson, 59. “It’s their time.”
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.