Tasers carried on some Aspen-area buses
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” Security guards on late-night Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses are now carrying stun guns as a way of being sure they can protect themselves, drivers and passengers from trouble.
The new policy calls for security protection on buses on Friday and Saturday nights.
“It is a service that is needed,” said Dorothea Farris, a transportation authority board member, Pitkin County commissioner and frequent bus rider.
“I wish it were not required,” she said. “But if somebody is threatening me on the bus I want somebody with the authority to protect me. I don’t want to have to be afraid because the only person with a weapon is the passenger.”
Knives and other weapons have been found when the buses are cleaned at the end of a day, Farris said.
Tom Dalessandri, former Garfield County Sheriff and before that an Aspen Police Department assistant chief, said his security company runs the security contractor, Colorado Protective Services, at a cost of approximately $38 an hour per guard for six-hour shifts.
He said he asks that his guards be permitted to carry stun guns, which are not the Tasers that are capable of firing a charged projectile into a person some distance away. Stun guns involve the touching of the device to the body of the person being subdued.
“It’s more for self-protection, in case things get out of control, if someone were to pull a weapon or if they were overpowering one of our people,” Dalessandri explained.
He said armed security personnel are “not uncommon in this day and age” in mass transportation systems.
His security guards, he said, get the same training as police officers do at police academies, and are instructed that the stun guns are to be used only in defense of the guard, a driver or a passenger, and that the defense is to break off once the attack breaks off.
“Police officers might give chase if someone tries to run away,” he explained. But with his guards, “If someone wants to run away, God bless ’em.”
Starting in late 2006, the agency arranged to have two security officers per night on hand regularly at the Rubey Park bus station in Aspen, to handle the crowd of revelers spilling out of the bars on Friday and Saturday nights, and to ride the late-night buses that travel between Aspen and Snowmass, and between Aspen and El Jebel.
Those routes unofficially are known as “vomit comets” because riders have often been drinking and a few have been known to hurl. Kent Blackmer, the agency’s operations director, said they present “a truly frightening picture” of belligerent, highly intoxicated men and women.