Oversaturated with law enforcement in Eagle County? | VailDaily.com

Oversaturated with law enforcement in Eagle County?

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Incumbent Joe Hoy, a Republican, and challenger James Van Beek, an independent, are facing off in the sheriff’s race in November’s general election.

They’ve been asked to send e-mail replies to a series of questions. Here’s this week’s question:

Since traffic stops are the only criminal activity that increased last year, is Eagle County over-saturated with law enforcement?

Joe Hoy: Simply put, absolutely not.

Remember, not all traffic stops are criminal in nature. Many are to assist motorists or simply to give a warning for a simple violation. In modern law enforcement management, you do not determine patrol staffing levels based solely on the number of crimes reported.

Fluctuations in local population, training, vacation, and anticipated sick leave all are factors that must be considered.

Additionally, officer and public safety is a major factor in staffing allocation. Not every call for service can be handled by just one officer and many times a specific call may have the potential for turning into a dangerous/violent situation that needs more than one office to respond. Having more officers in marked vehicles on the street sends a visual message to citizens that their community is a safer place and sends a message to the bad guys that they may want to think twice before considering targeting a neighborhood as a potential target.

James van Beek: Do more police officers in fact reduce crime?

The answer may seem obvious, but many social scientists have argued that the number of police officers has no effect on crime rates and may even increase them.

“If you look at the studies, particularly in the criminology literature, it’s either no effect or actually a positive effect … ” (Postrel, 2005).

Based on the above …

Information that I have obtained from a variety of sources shows that, in 2008, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office had 61,399 calls for service; in 2009, 51,345 calls; and in 2010, year to date, 44371. In 2008, there were 1,980 traffic-related calls; 2009, 1,807; and year to date 2010, 1,373. Eagle County reached its population peak, and reported crimes also peaked in 2008. There has since been a reduction in reported crimes, inclusive of traffic offenses.

What this calls into question for me is not if there is an overabundance of officers, but how the officers are performing their duties and responsibilities. Is the current sheriff’s administration failing to require and allow the patrol officers to be fully engaged at the community level with the public they are to be serving, working on detecting, documenting and eliminating crime?

In 2009, the part-time street crimes task force had 73 arrests, 52 of those narcotics-related; year to date, 2010 the same force has 103 arrests, 56 of those for narcotics, so this is an increase. What is different?

This small, part-time street crimes unit that has increased reported crimes, has seized approximately $250,000, plus or minus, from money seizures related to felony crimes since their implementation? It is important to note that the current administration is considering decreasing this same unit’s ability to be effective by taking away their vehicles and providing them vehicles that are easily identified as “unmarked” police cars. So is the public truly being served?

I think the question should be “Does the current Sheriff Office administrations know how to properly utilize the assets they have in service to the citizens of Eagle County?”

My answer to this question would be “no.”

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