Eagle County Sheriff: With graduation around the corner, consider a career in law enforcement (column) | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Sheriff: With graduation around the corner, consider a career in law enforcement (column)

James van Beek

With graduation around the corner, many of Eagle County’s young people are thinking about their futures. Some will leave our valley, heading off to college or entering the military. Others will attend Colorado Mountain College and remain with our community while earning a degree. We have those who will jump right into the workforce through internships, apprenticeships and direct employment.

Regardless of their paths, this is a very exciting time for the young members of our county.

There are many career choices, and I hope that some will consider law enforcement. A few options include FBI agent, U.S. marshal, state trooper, customs agent, Secret Service, federal air marshal and even game warden, but my favorite is sheriff’s deputy.

Throughout the year, we have discussed the many areas of community involvement in which we have had the honor to participate or the privilege to represent. We have the ability to work with a wonderful group of people across a wide spectrum of services, including local police departments, charitable organizations, forestry programs, public-service agencies and a huge range of local business and enterprises, not to mention the incredibly interesting international guests that visit our amazing community.

To be of service to you in such a beautiful environment has been the thrill of my life, and I would love to see others pursue this as a career. I can’t imagine anything as fulfilling. Within our organization, there are many options:

• Patrol operations — For those who like working outdoors with a variety of people, addressing a huge range of issues, our patrol operations are exciting. Community safety from the roads to the home is your responsibility. Nothing is more diverse than being on patrol. You are the front line of protection.

• Investigations — You are the ultimate sleuth. From white-collar crime to murder, nothing gets past your watchful eye, and the ability to discover and analyze details that might escape others makes you a critical link in solving complex cases. TV shows revolve around the job you do.

• Corrections — Helping those who are incarcerated due to an error in judgment, a mental-health issue or drug use, or who may have developed uncontrollable rage, is an integral part of your position. No one works closer to those who may have made life-altering choices that affect the safety of the community and themselves.

You are the conduit between them and community resources to help guide them back to their normal lives. Sometimes, that means helping them with housing, food, medical assistance or child care. You are the transition person for them, as they make decisions that impact the future of their families and community.

• Forensics — You are the Indiana Jones of law enforcement. You work closely with investigators to trace back evidence and determine likely scenarios. You often provide the missing piece to puzzling investigations. Science is your strength, and you are able to use those clues to explain a trajectory of events.

No individual case is the same. You are methodological in approach and can think outside the norm for solutions. Cases will rely upon your expertise.

• Special operations — You are on the frontline of the most dangerous situations. Strategy, crisis management, negotiations and just plain muscle are part of your responsibilities. Continual and intense training is essential, as you take your law-enforcement skills to the next level.

You will work with the most technologically advanced equipment and be part of a team that consists of professionals from across the entire county, including local police departments. When necessary, you will be the liaison to state and federal agents, yet your daily interactions will continue to keep you connected to the community.

• Public relations — You will be the communications connection between law enforcement events and the public. When an event occurs, fear can take over, and you are the one who provides the details and helps to calm the public in times of crisis. You work with media and other agencies to coordinate information and establish public services, when necessary. All agencies look to you for guidance on determining the bigger picture of events.

• Administration — This is the pulse of the entire Sheriff’s Office. They manage and coordinate the efforts of all departments and external agencies. Like any substantial organization, there are those who handle financial affairs, human resources, regulatory issues, connections to courts and the district attorney, following up with community agencies, providing volunteer support and many other issues of successfully running a public office. You are the first person who most people will meet when in need of help.

To the graduates of 2018, congratulations, and please consider joining us in keeping our beautiful county the incredible place that you call home.

James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. Reach him at james.vanbeek@eaglecounty.us.

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