Van Beek: An element of trust
With new and continually updated federal, state, and county orders in place, people wonder, what role will law enforcement take? Naturally, the degree is based upon the threat. In highly populated urban areas, where one indiscretion can affect many due to density, enforcement must be tighter because of proximity. This is especially important during a pandemic.
In Eagle County, you won’t notice much change because, in rural areas, social distancing is almost a way of life. We live here because of our passion for open space. Yet, we tend to be quite social and we must monitor how we interact with one another in public places like grocery stores and post offices.
On hold are the welcoming handshakes and hugs, yet the big smiles, remain. We share a level of friendliness and respect with our neighbors and visitors that is uncommon in many other areas. It makes serving this community an absolute honor and a privilege. We also trust one another.
According to the dictionary, trust is the “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”
Here, we do rely on the truth and strength of one another, and the ability to look out for the most vulnerable among us. Trust is essential, as we make sacrifices for neighbors we know, and those we have yet to meet, and that commitment is being tested daily.
Social distancing, continual hand washing, home containment … for a friendly community, these things can be challenging, yet we are all on board. We trust members of our community to maintain parameters of behavior, which will keep us all safe. Team Eagle County is stepping up and taking care of each other. It is how we roll!
Let me reassure members of Eagle County that all law enforcement agencies are continuing to handle their regular duties and doing so at the exceptional levels you have come to expect. In areas where there might be an unusually high demand, we have coordinated resources to help one another, as a joint team, working together for the overall safety of this community.
With that in mind, during a critical event, there are legal as well as ethical recommendations asked of the community, to address mutual concerns. Some of these have official implications. While we will continue to enforce serious infractions, we also acknowledge the sensitive nature of all that is occurring and the physical and emotional toll it takes on communities.
As such, we ask our friends and neighbors to please use the “honor system” in adhering to local, state, and federal guidelines and requirements. We have come to trust members of our community, to pull together during times of crisis, and this is no exception.
Since all of this is new to leadership across the country, you will notice that some “orders” are being modified upon implementation because of unforeseeable circumstances, which may make the order inappropriate for any number of valid reasons. This is new terrain for everyone.
As such, our office and that of others in Eagle County, will not be stopping motorists and demanding justification for their travel. We will assume that they have a good reason for leaving their homes and risking contamination. However, if someone is engaged in illegal activity and that activity also defies health orders, they will be held responsible for both violations.
As the sheriff, and also as your neighbor, I ask that we all observe the honor system and attempt to remain within our homes as much as possible. Of course, we are lucky to live in such an amazing environment, and most officials agree that getting outdoors for exercise and a break from isolation is both healthy and a natural part of living in Eagle County … just remember to keep those distances from one another to 6 feet or more.
We are a community that cares. Please reach out to those who may need assistance. Stay healthy, remain safe, and be happy!
James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.