Vail Daily letter: Van Beek for sheriff |

Vail Daily letter: Van Beek for sheriff

After the smoke clears, what is the true measure of a law enforcement officer? Is it all about college degrees or political affiliations? I believe the measure comes down to a higher calling, the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. The code identifies a fundamental duty to serve, protect and respect constitutional rights.

There will be many operational and technical issues facing the Sheriff’s Office. Our sheriff will need to rely on expert staff to address these issues. Though we watch the news, it is not these issues that create the most problems — it is a failure to successfully address the fundamental duty. I recently watched the news as citizens in Ferguson, Mo., protested and their chief of police apologized as he tried re-build public trust. I read about the chief’s credentials, having obtained an associate in applied life science, a bachelor in criminal justice management and a certificate in criminal justice education. He was a graduate of the FBI National Academy and had 30 years of police experience, serving as commander of a drug task force, SWAT supervisor, pilot, undercover detective, and hostage negotiator. What happened?

I read a recent ad and thought about the happenings in Ferguson. The ad compared the education and experience of a candidate to listed qualifications of van Beek. It suggested the candidate was better qualified to be our next sheriff partially because of van Beek’s current employment, an employee of ECO Transit. This dismissal of van Beek’s employment as not relevant or as important as his concerns me. I thought, get off your pedestal. Hardworking residents who work as bus drivers, taxi drivers, bartenders, waitresses, etc., are intelligent, responsible and skilled in working with people. We can learn a lot about the pulse of a community from these people, and really, isn’t this what community outreach is really about? Should this be a lesson learned in Ferguson?

I do not believe we should vote for anyone just because they are local; however, it doesn’t hurt. Supporters of the other candidate suggest we should not vote for a candidate just because of who he knows. Wait a minute. These supporters tell us about interaction with their candidate, and a Vail Daily article reported about significant financial contributions to that candidate — isn’t this about who you know? Community policing is about getting to know.

James van Beek has identified his values and diversified experience. We have heard from our previous sheriff, who served the county for 20 years, and many others who have known van Beek for years, attest to his integrity, leadership abilities, respect for others, and sense of community. I have known van Beek for almost two decades and firmly believe he will lead by example in fulfilling his fundamental duty as sheriff.

This Election Day, please exercise your right to vote; our veterans have preserved that right for you. Then after clearing the smoke, I think you will find van Beek is right for Eagle County sheriff.

Lorenzo W. Martinez

Support Local Journalism