Vail Daily letter: Supports Van Beek |

Vail Daily letter: Supports Van Beek

Ian R. Allison
Vail, CO, Colorado

I am writing this letter to you to offer my support for James Van Beek as he seeks to be elected sheriff of Eagle County. I would like to point out from the outset that I have known James since December 2003 when we both worked for the United Nations in Kosovo, and we remain friends to this day. There is no bias on my part. Had I not believed James could do a good job, I would not be endorsing him. Without his prior knowledge, I placed a group page on Facebook supporting his campaign.

I am a retired former British police officer with 16.5 years of policing service.

In December 2003, I was seconded by my force, the Ministry of Defence Police, to serve a two-year mission in Kosovo working for the United Nations. The United Nations implemented the use of international police officers after the short war between Serbia and Kosovo to help bring stability back for the local population. International officers from 45 nations were in mission, making it an ethnical, cultural and religious hotspot.

James and I were both working at Kamenica Police Station, where James was chief of operations. Kamenica city itself is three villages merged into one with a mixed population of Albanians (majority), Serbians and Romas (minority). Whilst all three lived in the same city, there was always an underlying tension. James and I shared accommodations in a nearby Serbian village.

As chief of operations, James ran the daily operations of the station, managing over 150 local police officers and 30-plus international police officers. As chief of ops, James was the liaison officer with the military assigned to our area, U.N. representatives and the local Albanian and Serbian village leaders, and he was well respected within each of these groups.

James was instrumental in raising the profile of community policing within the different villages, which, when you take into consideration the deep mistrust between the different ethnic divides, was no easy feat.

In March 2004, James’ leadership qualities really came to the forefront when the Albanian population decided to riot as a show of displeasure toward the United Nations’ slow place in improving their lives. The station commander proved to be lacking in leadership qualities, failing to react in any manner, and James stepped into the breach.

This rioting lasted for three days. At one point James and I found ourselves alone amongst a large group of angry males who were intent on destroying the home of the local Serbian leader. James singled out an influential Albanian male whom he knew and urged him to step in to calm the situation. He then organized a small group of junior American soldiers, and together we persuaded the crowd to fall back.

James then entered the home of the local Serbian leader and offered her and her family safe refuge at our home whilst the situation remained as it was. She initially refused to leave. James eventually persuaded her that it would diffuse the situation, and she agreed to go.

At one point during the rioting, the local police officers’ morale was diminishing (this followed a talk from the station commander). James was once again able to reverse this trend by leading from the front, working side by side with all the police officers, offering encouragement to each of them and giving them his full support.

During these three days he worked continuously, keeping everyone focused and being instrumental in diffusing the rioting and bringing peace once more to our assigned area.

So why should James be your next sheriff?

Allow me to list just some of his traits: great leadership qualities; former military experience; several years of American law enforcement experience; several years of international law enforcement experience (Kosovo and Afghanistan); ability to liaise with different ethnic groups effectively and without judgment; worked effectively and efficiently with law enforcement officers from many different ethnic, cultural and religious divides; negotiating skills; great motivator.

My only regret as I follow the campaign is that I am unable to cast my vote. For me there would only be one candidate, James Van Beek. To those of you who have no interest in the election or those who are undecided, please, please don’t neglect your democratic right. Make sure you cast your vote Nov. 2.

Good luck, James.

Ian R. Allison

Memmingen, Germany

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