Cops on skis keep the peace at Vail and Beaver Creek. But they’re more likely to lend a friendly mitten.
One-of-a-kind patrols have been a fixture at Eagle County ski areas for 16 years, though loss of lift privileges may be the biggest incentive for safe behavior.
VAIL — Det. Greg Schwartz spies a couple in need and skis up to them in front of the bright yellow “Slow Skiing” sign on Vail’s Northwoods run.
“Can I take it for you?” he asks, reaching for the phone balancing in Lowell Zarzuela’s hand as he snaps selfies of himself and his wife, Angie.
“Catch any bad guys today?” Lowell asks, realizing after a few seconds that he’s talking to a cop on skis.
“It’s not really about catching the bad guys,” Schwartz says. “It’s more about chatting with folks like you. Just letting you know we are around.”
“So no high-speed chases?” says Lowell, on vacation in Vail with his family from Chicago.
“Not yet,” Schwartz says with a laugh.
For 16 years, the Mountain Patrol has put skiing cops on the slopes of Vail and Beaver Creek. It’s a one-of-a-kind policing program, with uniformed officers supporting safety teams and ski patrollers. They don’t do much actual police work — very few arrests — and serve more as back-up and safety ambassadors at the ski areas.
Read more from Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun.
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