Teen perils to big-city crimes | VailDaily.com

Teen perils to big-city crimes

Matt Zalaznick

The county is still a pretty safe place for kids to grow up, but they face many of the same perils as their peers in big cities and suburban areas, says Hoy, 54, a Vietnam veteran who’s been with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years.

“In general this is a very safe environment for kids to grow up in,” says Hoy, who has spent 12 years working with fifth- and seventh-graders in the sheriff’s DARE program. “But I think the good-life attitude around here sends a relaxed message.”

Exposure to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, bullying and peer pressure are among the dangers the county’s teens must overcome – and students in seventh grade are sometimes at ground zero, Hoy says.

“It’s a very critical time,” he says. “Their social world is expanding, their level of freedom is expanding, there is more expected of them, but they still have a lot of questions.”

If elected, Hoy says he will continue to crack down on teenage drinking.

“Teen drinking is a problem everywhere. It always has been and we’re always going to have it on some level,” Hoy says. “With teen drinking, the first priority I want to focus on is where are the kids getting it? Do they have false IDs? Are friends getting it for them. Are they stealing it from their parents?”

Some teens in the county also face problems at home, Hoy says.

“Another thing kids are exposed to are domestic disputes and domestic violence,” he says.

High Country crime

Some in the county fear big-city crimes are slowly invading the valley. Hoy says they’re already here.

“We have all the types of crimes you have in the big city. We just don’t have as much of it,” Hoy says.

The overall crime rate has probably been stable over the past few years, however, with minor dips and surges, Hoy says.

“The way I see it, the more a place becomes popular and the more people come to it, sooner or later crime is going to follow,” he says. “I think a lot of it has to do with the economy –when times are good you see a dip in some crimes; when times are difficult, you see a spike in some crimes.”

Drugs continue to be sold and used in the valley, he says.

“I don’t think there’s been an increase in drug use, but there may be a pocket of people tyring to get an increase,” he says. “But we’ve got very capable folks who are doing their best to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.”

If elected, deputies will continue to patrol neighborhoods for speeding drivers, he says.

“It’s part of a road deputy’s responsibility to do traffic patrol,” he says. “My No. 1 priority would be residential and school areas and from there, areas where you see more congestion, like construction zones.”

From his observations, most people drive carefully in those parts of the county, Hoy says.

“I think a majority of the folks are conscientious, especially where kids and schools are concerned and in neighborhoods where there’s a lot of pedestrian activity,” he says. “Sometimes all people need is a gentle reminder. Everyone has lapses.”

“Motivate and inspire”

Making tough decisions and motivating co-workers are two qualities Hoy says he has that make him a stronger candidate for sheriff.

“I believe a sheriff should be one to motivate and inspire the people that he works with,” Hoy says. “I think the better tone that a leader sets, the more the people that work for him are willing to give 100 percent, and that’s true anywhere from a big corporation to a small business.”

Helping people has long motivated him, Hoy says.

“I feel it’s been my calling to help others in the best way I can and I’ve always gotten great satisfaction out of that,” he says. “Eagle County is my home, I have family here and to me, stepping up and running for this position at the next level is where I can best help and serve people.”

One of his law-enforcement philosophies is for residents to get to know the deputies who work in their neighborhoods, Hoy says.

“I want people in the county and our areas of response to feel comfortable when they see one of our patrol cars. I want them to have a familiarity with the people in the patrol cars and come to depend on these folks,” Hoy says.

If elected, Hoy says he wants to get to know residents better.

“A sheriff should be able to go out into the community and feel comfortable no matter where he is,” Hoy says. “And people should feel comfortable talking to him.

“You want a sheriff who is open-minded and fair,” he adds.

Residents want law enforcement officers who use discretion when responding to complaints, Hoy says.

“I think folks around here want people in uniform that use common sense and use their training to look at the whole situation in deciding what course of action to take,” Hoy says.

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

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