Van Beek: Our community is inclusive | VailDaily.com

Van Beek: Our community is inclusive

All communities have unique characteristics and within those, there are individual variances which enrich the neighborhood’s charm and connect its residents to one another and the greater community. 

Our Hispanic community contributes much to the essence of our county. Its culture and language are an integral part of our international mosaic. It also encourages us to expand our reach, to be more sensitive to how these differences can also create challenges. 

Staying connected

Part of our job in law enforcement is to bridge any gaps in communication and to make sure that everyone feels valued and included. To that objective, we have integrated numerous programs and networks, which help to keep us connected and proactive in unifying our community.

One area where all local law enforcement and Hispanic leaders connect is through the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Alliance. The focus is on building lasting relationships through meaningful interactions. Law enforcement, combined with social agencies, and nonprofit organizations, work with local Hispanic leaders to provide a sense of safety and inclusion to those who represent such a large and important part of our overall community. 

Information on resources and guidance on procedure eases existing challenges and offers a greater sense of connection between neighbors.  Young people are invited to participate in educational and social programs, which encourages success among their peers. 

We all come together to work on heartwarming causes like supplying food, clothing, and other essentials, to those in need, through things like Shop with a Cop, the Coat Drive, and other fundraising activities. A strong bond of trust develops, which enriches the lives of all involved. 

In addition to law enforcement, some of our partners include Eagle County Schools, the Salvation Army, Bright Future Foundation, YouthPower365, Eagle County Victim Services, Catholic Charities along with various public agencies and private organizations, to cover a multitude of services. We certainly welcome new ideas and your participation is essential to our success.  Please feel free to reach out to our law enforcement offices:

  • Sheriff James van Beek, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office (970-328-8509)
  • Chief Greg Daly, Avon Police Department (970-748-4049)
  • Chief Joe Staufer, Eagle Police Department (970-328-6351)
  • Chief Dwight Henninger, Vail Police Department (970-479-2218)
  • Chief Greg Knott, Basalt Police Department (970-927-4316)

Citizens’ Police Academy

One of our most popular programs is the annual Citizens’ Police Academy (beginning September 16), which is also offered in Spanish, “La Academia Policia,” currently in progress, which is sponsored by the Avon Police Department, in conjunction with law enforcement across the county.  

While the Academy does not certify participants for official duties, it serves as an introduction to law enforcement and how those services contribute to the overall community, and where you might fit in as a volunteer, or possibly as a new career opportunity.   

The academy is a seven-week program for approximately 20 participants which is held once a week for 2.5 hours each day. The curriculum centers on how community policing works in conjunction with different law enforcement agencies and volunteer organizations. It introduces the role of detectives, detention deputies, patrol officers, administrators, judicial offices, and the Vail Public Safety Communications Center. 

Training includes such skills as fingerprinting, crime scene investigations, neighborhood security, firearms training, drug detection, handling intoxication, self-defense, hostage simulations, neighborhood speed management, pedestrian and bicycle safety, disaster relief, mental health concerns, leadership training, working with youth, wilderness search strategies, and community engagement opportunities. 

To undergo training, you must be over 18, pass a background check with no felony convictions and agree to a liability waiver. 

Law enforcement across the valley are trained in cultural awareness, and they all offer bilingual services. In the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, 21% of its personnel were Hispanic (recently two of our people moved to other offices), 13% Bilingual, and another 20% fluent in other languages. 

All Eagle County alerts go out in both English and Spanish. We translate many of our articles into Spanish. We offer QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) training in both languages.  Also, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training is also offered bilingually. 

The objective of everyone in the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and in police departments across the county is to make everyone feel safe and included.  We are all one. 

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