Letters to the editor
Diplomat this timeI read Matt Zalaznick’s editorial about the Avon Elementary School handcuff incident with alarm. Even so, I noticed that the story lacked first-hand reporting and eye-witnesses. Then I realized the officer’s name rang a bell from an incident several years ago. Fortunately, I was able to dig up a letter I sent to the police chief at the time. My letter reflects contemporaneous observations, and I hope it will shed light on the character of the officer now so much in question. Here is that letter from May 30, 2003:”Dear Jeff (Layman, then chief of Avon police): At the beginning of this month we had a problem here that clearly called out for police intervention. “My 7-year-old son rode his bike from our house on Eaglebend Drive down to the Eaglebend Apartments and began to play there with acquaintances from school. Suddenly an additional child appeared, and attacked our child with tremendous viciousness. Although the assailant was a contemporary, this was no normal schoolyard scrap. For instance, the boy struck our son with a rock held in his hand.”As soon as I got the facts, I called the police, and then proceeded to the Eaglebend Apartments. I wanted to locate the kid before it was too late. But much as I knew that a quick and appropriate response was important, I was very nervous over obvious pitfalls at hand. This could degenerate into a dangerous confrontation with class and ethnic overtones.”What unfolded was without any question a best-case outcome, and I attribute all of the success to the skills and sensitivity of the cop who responded. He treated all parties with an unwavering respect. He arrived with a battle plan, and executed it. He carefully interviewed parties and witnesses separately, and he made everyone comfortable. Somehow he engendered no fear or suspicion. He directed different groups to stand and wait in separate, defined areas, eliminating the likelihood of escalation. Before long, I noticed that he was receiving the same respect he directed towards all parties.”At the outset the father of the miscreant expressed resentment of “whites.” The cop deflected that by focusing in on the facts as presented by several helpful witnesses. He presented the picture with sufficient clarity that he persuaded the father of the accuracy of his case. (Think about that: That was a real communication challenge.) The father and the son apologized, and the situation was defused. My objective was achieved: The father and son had learned that such behavior was intolerable. But they were treated in such a civilized way that I am sure it had a civilizing effect.”If I were the chief of police in Avon, I would be very proud of an outcome like that. It says so much about the priorities, philosophy and expertise of the department. In this case, your man was 10 percent cop and 90 percent diplomat, and that was a winning formula. The name of the officer is Dave Wineman. He is a gentleman and a professional, and as a result this is a more congenial and a safer place.Walter DandySide of racismMy name is J.J. Garcia. I moved to Vail from Denver back in October. For many weekends, I’ve been going to a local cafe for breakfast. Recently I was served a side of racism with my breakfast. The people there are generally nice. The waitresses are all gorgeous and very nice. I’m not sure what this man was thinking, but it wasn’t very kooth at all. There was a couple sitting next to me and the man serving them I noticed as one of the managers. The man leaned up to his customers and asked, “Wanna hear a good joke?” The customers played along. Then the man asked, “What did Jim Bowie say to Davie Crockett at the Alamo?” The customers had no answer. Then the man said, “Where did all these … Mexicans come from?”Judging from the last name, you might guess that I was offended. The customers didn’t laugh. They didn’t think it was funny. As a matter of fact, they were telling him the joke wasn’t funny at all.Racism is hurtful. I’m a little angry that this guy was telling such a joke. He’s obviously no more from the valley as most foreigners in this area. And if it weren’t for the Mexican people, he might not be allowed to work in this country in the first place. I could have raised a stink in the cafe, but then I would have just been another Mexican causing a stir when he got his bill. The only thing I can do is take my business elsewhere. J.J. GarciaVailVail, Colorado
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