Vail Daily letter: Police state |

Vail Daily letter: Police state

Dave Kraft
Vail, CO, Colorado

The is in response to Ms. Fancher’s letter about the comedian’s car being stolen in Eagle. Was it recovered by police? No, the lady’s family found it.

I recently read the debate for Eagle County sheriff in the Daily. Some choice. You can either have old guard police state or new world police state.

I would really like to see someone new for Eagle County Sheriff, but if Van Beek is the alternative to Joe Hoy, no thanks! Van Beek trained police in Afghanistan? Is that what we need here? War zone cops asking for “papers please?”

I wonder how many of my fellow citizens agree that the omnipresence of police lurking around every corner is unjustified for the small amount of serious crime here. If it’s not the State Patrol, it’s the county mounties. If it’s not the sheriff, it’s the Vail, Minturn, Avon police. Cops, cops and more cops! You can’t belch without a cop hearing it, but they couldn’t find that comedian’s stolen car. How, then, is the huge expense of all these police justified?

Are they really here to serve and protect the citizens against crimes like auto theft? Or has their primary mission become revenue collection for the tax-free corporations known as government? I would like to relate two encounters with police. You decide.

When I drove for Dial-A-Ride back in 1998, several of the bus drivers would meet after work for a couple of beers at Curtis’s Kitchen. It was a ritual, two beers — then we went home to bed.

One night I noticed a deputy sheriff tailing me as soon as I left Curtis’s. As I headed down Highway 6 toward Edwards, I could tell he was just dying to pull me over. He was tailing me so close I thought I was towing him. As I pulled into Riverwalk to drop off a friend, he peeled off around the back of the building.

As soon as I pulled back on Highway 6, he started following again, even closer this time all the way into Lake Creek. I know I didn’t give him any reason to pull me over, but he did it anyway.

The deputy comes up to my window and says, “The reason I pulled you over is you were weaving back there.” I said, “There’s no way. Go think up another reason.” He starts stuttering: “Wo-wo-wo, well, it was barely noticeable.” I said, “Ya, ya, yeah. Here’s my license. Go check me out.”

The deputy goes back to his car, noticeably rattled. Then another deputy pulls up behind him. I see the first deputy split and the second deputy comes back to my car. He says, “I’m giving you a warning on behalf of officer so and so.” I said, “Oh yeah, what for?” I totally stumped him. He had no answer ready.

He gives me back my license and starts to walk back to his car. I say, “Hold on a second. Your pal pulled me over for no reason and he can’t even face me? I’m not happy about it.” He says, “Have a nice evening” and practically runs back to his car.

It reminded me of the Southwest Airline commercial series “Want to get away?”

There are plenty of valid traffic violations to hunt down. Why do any police find it necessary to invent them? This deputy purposely tried to distract me into a violation. It’s not right, it’s not America. I knew at that point Eagle County was descending into a fascist police state. That didn’t change under Joe Hoy and is unlikely to change under Van Beek.

The other event was two winters ago. I witnessed a savage beating outside the George Bar on Bridge Street. Two men took turns beating the daylights out of a kid much smaller than either of them. The kid’s head was down against the pavement as blow after blow landed without return fire.

I said ,”Stop. He’s had enough. Let him up.” The first man lets the kid get up and then the bigger man starts beating him again. The kid must have taken 20 savage blows to the head. The last shot sent him head first into a heavy park bench, and the bench won. The kid is face down, out cold and a small pool of blood starts oozing from his head.

I ran to the bus and asked the driver to call an ambulance. Right then, the two men got on the bus. I tried to discreetly point them out to the driver, so he could trap them on the bus until police arrived. They recognized me and ran away into the parking structure. The looks on their face said “I just did something terrible and now I’m busted.” The bus video cameras most likely recorded images of the two men.

I ran back to give the kid first aid. He started to come around as the Vail police showed up. The cop instructed me to stop rendering first aid. This baffled me. He seem completely unconcerned about the kid. I told the cop that what I saw bordered on attempted murder, and that the two men were getting away.

Did the cop spring into action to find the perpetrators and arrest them? No, he went into slow motion. But he did ask for my papers so he could “clear me.” Meanwhile the bad guys got away clean. No wonder so few people get involved when there’s a crime.

The next day I ran into a cab driver who took two guys home from jail the previous night. The cabby said that these guys told a story about getting into a “fight.” They worried they would be tracked down and arrested, so they went to the police station later to tell their side of the story. Their story of being goaded into a fight was somewhat believable until the cops saw 16 bloody knuckles between them. They were charged and released on bail.

A couple days later I ran across the same Vail cop again. I asked if he had caught the guys from the savage beating at the George. He said, “We are still hoping to find them.”

Obviously he had no clue these men fell on their swords and were already caught. Awesome police work.

I would have testified against these barbarians at the trial. The police had my phone number. Was I contacted? No. The message it sent to me was the next time I see a crime just turn away and keep walking.

Dave Kraft


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