The candidates for sheriff want to be more proactive
EAGLE — The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office should be more transparent and proactive, say the two candidates vying to run it.
James van Beek and Daric Harvey are running to succeed Joe Hoy, the sheriff since 2002. Van Beek, a Republican, lost to Hoy by 82 votes in the 2010 election and beat Hoy in this year’s Republican primary. Harvey, a Democrat, is a commander with the Vail Police Department.
Van Beek and Harvey squared off in a debate this week.
Q: In light of the Ferguson incident, what’s your view of militarization of local police?
A: Van Beek said he has “lots of concerns” about a heavy handed approach to law enforcement. He has seen it first-hand when he worked in Kosovo and Afghanistan helping create and train community police forces.
“There are times when the police need to be assertive, but before that happens they need to have created a level of trust with the community,” van Beek said. “Let’s look for a cause and address that first.”
Harvey said it begins with community relationships. He said if someone perceives a problem, sit down with them and determine what the problem is and what can be done about it.
Sometimes law enforcement officers have to defuse a tense situation, Harvey said.
“It comes from the leadership,” Harvey said. “We can’t do it alone, and those bonds have to be forged long before angry people take to the streets.”
Q: Colorado’s new gun laws put specific limits on the number of rounds in a magazine. What do you think?
A: Harvey said the sheriff’s first duty is to uphold the law.
“Difficult or not, it’s the Sheriff’s sworn duty to uphold the law, both state and local,” Harvey said.
Harvey said if he believes something is wrong or wrong-headed, the time to speak up is before it becomes law.
“The proper course of action would have been to speak with legislators and explain that this is going to be a problem,” Harvey said. “Whether it’s marijuana laws or gun laws, we need to be proactive and ask legislators to help us enforce the law fairly and equitably across Colorado.”
Van Beek said the law is unenforceable and impractical.
“If it’s not practical and enforceable, it’s a waste of resources and effort,” van Beek said.
He said he would have joined other sheriffs across Colorado in challenging the law, but the time would have been better spent trying to educate the legislators before they passed the bill.
“It’s the Sheriff’s Office’s duty to challenge the legislature,” van Beek said. “If it’s not enforceable it’s a waste of our time and a waste of the taxpayer resources.”
Q: What issues face Eagle County Youth, and what would you do to address it?
A: Van Beek suggested more community policing, getting deputies out of their patrol vehicles and into direct contact with the public. It’s also important to provide kids with positive activities and role models.
“Here, as they do anywhere, their perceptions change as they approach adulthood,” van Beek said. “We should engage them in different opportunities.”
He suggested things like Explorer and Boy Scout programs.
Harvey launched an Explorer program affiliated with the Vail Police Department. Kids, he said, display the same kinds of tendencies they always have.
“Kids these days have the kinds of issues we’ve all had. All gas pedal and no brake,” Harvey said to laughing crowd.
He said he’d consider expanding the Sheriff’s Office’s school resource officer program from two public high schools.
Q: What do you think about women and minorities in leadership roles?
A: Harvey said increasing the number of minorities and women in the Sheriff’s Office begins with recruiting, then making sure they have equal opportunities for advancement.
“I think it starts with a succession plan — promote within an organization, Harvey said. “People in the Sheriff’s Office should be saying, ‘This is a great place to work. You should work here.’”
Van Beek was with the Sheriff’s Office 10 years before leaving to pursue become Vail Mountain’s head of security and work internationally.
“It’s part of the attitude of the Sheriff’s Office,” van Beek said. “First, it goes back to developing a relationship with the community.”
He said he would institute a “clear and delineated code of ethics” and a program to promote from within.
“Women and minorities must feel they have a voice and are empowered. That’s one of the things that will make them want to stay long term.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.