From sidewalks to local morals |

From sidewalks to local morals

Matt Zalaznick

Many residents may never meet the Eagle County Sheriff, says Kaufman, the Democratic candidate for the post, but they’ll notice a decline in their ways of life if the sheriff isn’t doing his job.

“It should matter to the bike rider, the construction worker, the insurance agent as far as does the quality of life meet their standards?” says Kaufman, 42, who’s been with the Eagle County Sheriff’s office for 14 years. “To them, it should be, “If I don’t have to think about law enforcement, then I guess this guy’s doing his job.'”

Kaufman says if he’s elected his top priority will be keeping the county the way it is, if not making it an even better place to live.

“There’s not a neighborhood or bar or restaurant that you or anybody cannot walk in, even at night,” Kaufman says. “That’s what’s great about Eagle County and that’s what I want to continue.

“You don’t want to say four years from now, “This neighborhood is not a safe place to walk,’ or, “I’d keep out of this place,'” he adds.

Because the valley is a safe place for kids, Kaufman says he wants to keep deputies in schools to whom teenagers will talk.

“The deputies that I see the kids relate to listen and they’re fair. They give the kids resources to resolve and understand the issues they’re dealing with,” Kaufman says. “These deputies can relate to them instead of saying, “It’s a just teenager, too bad,’ or “grow up.'”

When kids graduate, they have more respect for law enforcement, Kaufman says.

“The uniform respects them and they respect the uniform,” he says. “When they get out of high school, they understand why the officers are there.”

Crime and development

Along with crime, growth and development are a threat to quality of life, Kaufman says.

“Something I want to put an emphasis on is new development,” Kaufman says. “No matter what law enforcement agency you talk to, the No. 1 issue you’re going to have is traffic – people are concerned how other people drive up and down their street.”

Roads in new residential developments and subdivisions should be designed with pedestrians in mind, Kaufman says.

“I really want to make sure we have developments that are safe for people to walk around – that have sidewalks –so we don’t end up with another Eagle-Vail or Homestead,” he says.

Long straightaways are a problem, Kaufman says.

“People are able to go fast not because they can, but because the roads allow them to,” he says.

Kaufman says he’s also wants officers who work in the schools to talk to students about driving.

“One thing you’re never going to do is convince teenagers how dangerous a vehicle is,” Kaufman says. “That’s not going to happen until they’ve been on the highway five or 10 years, until they’ve had some close calls and realize it’s a dangerous activity.”

While there’s no evidence crime is increasing dramatically, residents should be more careful about locking their cars and homes, Kaufman says.

“Obviously with the influx of population and growth you’re going to bring in more people willing do to volunteer work, on the one hand. And on the other, more people are looking for easy ways to make money or find victims,” Kaufman says.

The county is still safer than most of the places many people moved here from, he says.

“You have the car break-ins, you have the drug dealing, you have crimes of opportunity,” he says. “But you still hear people don’t lock cars, they don’t lock their homes. Those things do have to increase.”

“Morals and character”

Kaufman says he has worked in all areas of the Sheriff’s Office. He’s been a patrol officer for seven years, worked in the Eagle County jail for three years and was a community policing administrator for three years.

He also manages the program that requires convicted sex offenders to register with the county when they are released from jail.

“I understand what it takes to run and maintain a jail,” he says. “I understand how to use inmates in positive ways to help serve the citizens and the community.”

A good deputy is one who knows how people think in the neighborhoods they patrol, Kaufman says.

“Each and every deputy takes an oath to uphold the laws of Colorado and the constitution, and each officer does have discretion,” Kaufman says. “One thing that I’ve taught in community policing is that’s the easy part of law enforcement.”

A deputy should understand the feelings of the people they patrol, he says. “The difficult part of law enforcement is learning your community and learning their morals and character – and enforcing the morals and character that aren’t law,” he says.

For example, he says, because there are no sidewalks Eagle-Vail, deputies there have to be more cognizant of people walking in the street.

“You have to take things into consideration that are morals and characters of the community,” Kaufman says. “If the community says this isn’t a big deal to them, than it’s not a big deal. Why should you force something down their throat?”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at

Support Local Journalism