Letter: Why we’re lucky to live here
In the past month, police officers nationwide have gotten a bad rap. Of course, anyone who saw George Floyd die under the knee of a bad cop must conclude, some censure has been right on target. But from my own decades as a journalist interacting with law enforcement in hair-trigger crises, I think most police have been painted with a broad brush they don’t deserve. In other words, most cops aren’t bad cops.
Which brings me to our department here in Vail. Thankfully, we don’t have the cultural conflicts that confront other communities. But there is crime, there are crashes and quarrels and brawls to mediate, so the police here should be as prepared as police anywhere to follow the best practices of their profession.
A few weeks ago, Chief Dwight Henninger told the Vail Daily with a dose of pragmatism, “We all have buttons that get pushed. We can let our emotions get the better of us.” Last week I talked with the chief and from decades in the business, he knows firsthand that every cop sometimes is confronted with a hair-trigger crisis. The bad ones turn to the trigger in their hands too fast. Happily, Henninger keenly supports reform. In the fields of crisis intervention and use of force, in sensitivity training, hiring, accountability. Some was in place here long before the world ever heard of George Floyd.
And, happily, he keenly supports the community.
After the Daily recently ran a letter about perilous practices on the bike path up Vail Pass, Chief Henninger sent an emissary to the shops that haul tourists and their rental bikes to the top of the pass so they can take a once-in-a-lifetime ride back down. Although Vail doesn’t actually have jurisdiction over the path itself — the National Forest and CDOT do — I’d guess that when a uniformed officer asks the shops to tell their customers about safe practices and the rules of the road (staying on right side, riding single file, getting off the path when they stop), they listen. And, hopefully, follow through.
Any of us who lives in Vail knows that for many reasons, we’re very lucky. It turns out, we’re well served too.
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