Guest column: Eagle County law enforcement works together to aid public safety
While each law enforcement organization has its own identity and unique set of standards, it is important to recognize that each organization has similar values when it comes to public safety and community caretaking. Robust partnerships between law enforcement agencies are necessary to provide our respective communities with the standards of care required in the modern world of policing.
Law enforcement agencies in Eagle County set the example of how important these relationships are and how efficient a process can become when working together with professionals affiliated with different agencies. The ability to form cohesive teams with unique diversity, reflecting enhanced knowledge, skills and experience is invaluable and only possible through these professional partnerships. These affiliations continue to yield positive results in our communities, from solving complex crimes to hosting community events, benefiting all citizens and guests in Eagle County.
As those who commit crime and prey on others do not follow any rules when it comes to jurisdictional boundaries, it is important for law enforcement agencies to address the variables and fluidity of such principles in order to properly respond to incidents with greater efficiency. The advent of modern terrorism, internet crime, drug distribution and cultural shifts with intelligence gathering, make it necessary for first responders to provide a unified approach in cooperative problem-solving methodologies and crisis response solutions.
In the event of a critical incident, Eagle County first responders are committed to assisting one another reach a common goal without interference from external ideologies or traditional jurisdictional “red tape.” This requires dedication and consistent communication between first responder organizations, including local police chiefs, the Eagle County Sheriff, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Division of Wildlife, our Eagle County Emergency Manager, our District Attorney, and various other state and federal agencies.
The importance of these collaborative interagency agreements and relationships can’t be understated. These healthy relationships between agencies continue to provide for the safety and security of our overall community during large events, such as the FIS ski races in Beaver Creek, as well as family community events, such as the annual National Night Out event. These professional relationships also provide for local law enforcement agencies to participate and/or staff teams to address crime and other issues, which commonly cross jurisdictional boundaries. These Eagle County teams include the regional unified Special Operations Unit, regional drug task force, the regional DUI task force, the Child Protection Team, among others. We also share the same records management system, saving time and increasing efficiency.
These resilient relationships also provide for alliance and support with community events, gatherings and fundraising projects. Due to these relationships in Eagle County, it is not uncommon to find representatives from several local and state law enforcement agencies at community events, immigration awareness presentations, community forums and fundraising affairs. In fact, the Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol and officers from local police agencies will be teaming up again this holiday season to bring joy to families in need with the Shop with a Cop annual event, in addition to the Tip a Cop event, which raises money and awareness for Special Olympics athletes in Colorado.
Local law enforcement agencies will continue to operate within memorandums of understanding which essentially provide the groundwork for collaboration and cooperation among agencies. Your law enforcement leaders remain committed to this practice, as the protection of life, liberty and service to our community is greatly enhanced with this unified approach in public safety. While collaboration is a goal of many counties across the country, rarely is it achieved with such respect and concern as it is here in Eagle County.
When you see a Sheriff’s Deputy in a local town, a police officer from another agency working at an event, a Colorado State Patrol officer assisting on a crime scene, or other first responders working an incident, scene or community event outside their routine jurisdiction, know that this is achieved through official cooperative agreements, but mostly from the care and concern that our local law enforcement leaders have for our neighbors, friends and all who live and visit Eagle County. We are here to serve.
This column was co-written by Sheriff James van Beek and Eagle Police Chief Joe Staufer.