Vail Daily letter: A Brit for Van Beek |

Vail Daily letter: A Brit for Van Beek

Calvin Tonks
Vail, CO, Colorado

A Brit for Van Beek

I am a British police officer (one of those police officers who wear those funny-shaped helmets) and have been for the past 20 years. I am currently a supervisor for a counterterrorist unit in the UK. During my career, I have covered various duties and responsibilities including general policing duties, public order, community policing, investigations, royalty protection and overseas policing for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (British government).

I have known James Van Beek since we met in Kosovo while policing for the United Nations. I met James on my first day at Kamenica Station in 2001, where James was a shift supervisor. They say first impressions count, and James certainly made a first impression. He is a tall but gentle giant, not just physically but also socially.

James was talking with two Kosovo police officers through a language assistant but could see the language assistant was not really getting his point across to the officers. James then suddenly started speaking German fluently to one of the officers who had spent some time in Germany.

To say I was impressed is an understatement. James excels in effective and positive communication, communicating with credibility and confidence, providing an intellectual atmosphere conducive to the stimulation and interchange of ideas and encouraging open communication to achieve mutual understanding for all present.

He demonstrated this on a number of occasions while I worked with him. During the 18 months I worked with James, he always kept himself well informed of pertinent legislation, changing government regulations and business, political and social issues affecting us in Kosovo. And if I did not know something, he was my go-to guy and an invaluable source of knowledge.

I left Kosovo to work in Baghdad just after it was liberated with the Coalition Powers Authority. During this time, I worked as part of an intelligence cell with the U.S. military and assisted with the setting up of the new Iraq Police Service. I wrote policy and training plans for them. During this time, I stayed in contact with James via e-mail, still requesting advice from him, which greatly assisted me in achieving the mission.

I returned in 2004 to Kosovo, where again I met up with James, who was now the station commander of the Kamenica police station, responsible for one of the most ethnically mixed municipalities with a population of just over 64,000 people, 170 Kosovo police officers, 20 international police officers (including me) and 14 language assistants.

James displayed the confidence needed to face the toughest leadership challenges, demonstrating strong, dynamic and charismatic leadership qualities.

James was responsible for all the police issues affecting this community, dealing with murders, rapes, riots and other public disorders such as protests. James continuously demonstrated his knowledge of when to restrain and when to exercise power, promoting harmony and teamwork by showing appreciation for contributions made by others.

James responds promptly to changes and opportunities. I have seen him dealing with a horrific incident in the morning and then participating in games with children in the community and giving 100 percent attention and focus to whatever he is doing at that time.

One of James’ greatest assets is his ability to empower employees with the authority and resources to achieve results, recognizing the importance of working through subordinates while maintaining control.

I have always found James to be consistent, dependable and accurate in carrying out responsibilities to a successful conclusion, displaying industriousness, conscientiousness and diligence in performing tasks.

His verbal commitments are consistent with his actions, and he can be counted on to achieve results using proven methods and techniques, generating greater success in highly complex situations.

James was known for developing a station known for its credibility, showing a strong interest in professional development programs.

During his time as station commander in Kamenica, James effectively developed individual, departmental and organizational goals to attain objectives, keeping assertiveness and empathy in balance, demonstrating strong facilitation skills, effectively handling differing viewpoints skillfully and refusing unreasonable demands when required.

James always strived to make more meaningful and challenging contributions to the betterment of the station, developing a climate providing motivation, participation and opportunities for employee initiative.

Overall I would say James is fair and cheerful and follows businesslike procedures to accomplish objectives, recognizing and accepting his personal limitations and avoiding unrealistic promises.

James possesses all the traits associated with excellence, displaying a strong moral character, demonstrating a commitment to core values and is highly regarded for his integrity and impeccable honesty.

I would work with and for James any opportunity I could get. I respect him as a police officer and especially as a friend who can maintain a sense of humor when those around him are losing theirs and will always be grateful to receive his infectious, energizing optimism.

I have worked with a number of American police officers during my career, and James Van Beek is the only one I would ever recommend, endorse, support and advocate you to have as your sheriff. I wish him all the luck with his campaign.

Calvin Tonks

Police sergeant, Ministry of Defence Police, United Kingdom

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