Vail Daily letter: Van Beek for sheriff |

Vail Daily letter: Van Beek for sheriff

Flint Chambers
Gypsum, CO Colorado

As a registered Democrat in Eagle County, on Nov. 2, the residents of Eagle County will have the chance to make their voices heard for the position of Eagle County sheriff. I have known James van Beek since he was a new sheriff’s deputy for Eagle County and have had the opportunity to work with him in Afghanistan as part of the Afghanistan Civilian Assistance Support program. Without a doubt, the residents of Eagle County will not find a more professional, dedicated individual who is committed to the philosophy of community-oriented policing than James van Beek.

As a sheriff’s deputy, van Beek was regularly out of his vehicle communicating with the residents and businesses of Eagle County. James van Beek was not the type of officer to drive by residents without waving or making a gesture of friendship. Once he was promoted to an investigator, he handled all his cases with the utmost integrity. I never heard James make the statement, “I will just charge them and let the courts sort it out.” In a judicial system that is overburdened, he understood the consequences for the victims as well as individuals when charges are hastily brought against someone only to have the cases dropped or dismissed at a later date, resulting in an individual having an unjust criminal allegation or a criminal going free. When elected as sheriff of Eagle County, James van Beek will bring these same philosophies and commitment to the community.

I have been following the letters to the editors and blog comments about James van Beek’s lack of supervision experience. I did not work with him when he was a regional commander in Kosovo, where he supervised close to 100 international police officers. I did work with him as part of the command staff in Afghanistan. James van Beek had the responsibility of supervising the field mentors and security teams that work in the field with the Afghanistan National Police command staff for his region. He and his men were responsible for mentoring law enforcement best practices, personnel, finance, logistics, operations and training/education along with reporting any human-rights violation and misuse of international funds by the Afghan National Police. With his ability to speak multiple languages, James van Beek also was assigned to a region where he utilized those skills to coordinate with the international community to accomplish the mentoring task he was assigned.

Afghanistan was the first time I had the opportunity to observe James van Beek’s supervision style. He is the type of supervisor who properly prioritizes the task at hand and utilizes his personnel to the best of their ability (realizing that employees have strengths and weaknesses), and he is fair with his personnel when behavioral issues arise. Additionally, he employs a coaching or mentoring attitude utilizing discipline as a last resort. James is calm under pressure. I witnessed this on a regular basis as the plateau where our compound was located received mortar fire an average of once every seven to 10 days and small-arms fire an average of every eight to 14 days.

I do not believe there is a better candidate for the position of Eagle County sheriff than James van Beek. He has served his country as part of the armed forces on the front line of the Cold War in Germany prior to the Berlin Wall falling and the collapse of Soviet empire. He and his wife, Carrie, have made Eagle County their home and are raising two fine boys here. He has spent many years dedicated to the law enforcement profession and developing his law enforcement supervision skills. These experiences have provided James van Beek with skills needed to reach out to community members by providing leadership, communication, facilitation, consensus building and fellowship.

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