Recently, I proposed bold initiatives to modernize and improve the Pitkin County Sheriff Department for the benefit of all residents and visitors. My “green” platform addresses the impact we all have on our environment. Secondly, I tackled possibly the biggest public safety threat in Pitkin County; alcohol related vehicle fatalities. Not only did Braudis responded by saying that he would not change any of his policies, he cited statistics that are factual inaccurate. For example, Braudis said. “We are making as many car stops as ever. There are just not as many drunk drivers.” The facts tell a different story. Car stops fell from 3800 in 2003 to 1995 in 2005. This year they are on pace for 1900-half of 2003’s efforts.
In a recent article when questioned about his priorities, Bob Braudis cited education as a priority. When you look at the actions of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office, a different picture emerges. Pitkin County has jurisdiction over the schools, however:
1. There is no Pitkin County Deputy assigned to the school.
2. There are no Pitkin County Sheriff sponsored educational programs in the schools.
3. Bob Braudis has never met Dr. Diana Sirko, the Aspen school superintendent.
In contrast, the Aspen Police Department has two full time officers in the schools, and has several education programs that I have led and participated in. I personally as a candidate have met Dr. Sirko to discuss how the Sheriff’s deptartment can partner better with the schools. I feel the Sheriff’s office lack of participation in our school is a major shortcoming of Bob Braudis’ policies.
I will assign a deputy full time to the Aspen School District.
In the post-Columbine era, law enforcement must cultivate open lines of communications with students and teachers. As Sheriff, part of what I bring to the office, is not only ten years of experience working with the students of our community, but also a determination to transform the way the Sheriff’s office works with and protects our children.
The most serious threat to our children is the prospect of growing consumption of dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines and ecstasy, which are becoming increasing popular among children under eighteen.
Sheriff Braudis, in the April 20th Aspen Daily News stated, “Nobody wants the youth of Pitkin County using chemicals. It’s not healthy, whether it’s Budweiser or blow. We put most of our drug budget into educational programs, most of which deal with youth.” In addition to the shortcomings I cited above, the truth is that the Pitkin County Sheriff does not have a drug budget or educational programs in the schools.
As Sheriff my policy will be 180 degrees different. Borrowing on my experience with the Aspen Police-led programs at the schools:
I will sponsor youth events in an effort to build trust and communication with children.
For instance I have organized dozens of “Pizza in the Park” parties and bike rodeos at the Aspen schools and at the Early Learning Center. I will enact these and other programs aimed at building relationships with Pitkin County’s children. Plus I will partner with Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention to work with the schools to provide a healthy message to students.
This is particularly relevant now. Methamphetamines are creeping into this valley, quietly, secretively, but it is here. This is obviously a serious risk we need to deal with. Make no mistake, the Pitkin County Sheriff is not prepared for methamphetamines. The current Sheriff’s passive stance about hard drugs will not serve our community well.
I propose an upper valley substance abuse team called Yellow.
Because the current office is ill prepared to deal with this problem and because partnering is a model I believe in, I will create an all-inclusive team called Yellow that will address upper valley substance abuse problems, with an emphasis on education. We will collaborate with Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention, Aspen Valley Medical Foundation and the Right Door. Basalt PD, Snowmass Village PD, Aspen PD and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office will all work together to solve substance abuse problems, while maintaining our unique humanistic approach to law enforcement.
Unfortunately, dozens of people have become addicted and/or overdosed during Braudis’ tenure. This would indicate not only that education is needed, but harder actions are required to try and prevent these tragedies. Despite the evidence of addiction and numerous documented deaths, his deputies have never arrested and convicted a dope dealer.
I raise a question: Could Sheriff Braudis have done more to prevent these tragedies?
I want to encourage children to make healthy, productive decision about their futures. I will take a balanced and rational approach against hard drugs. This is a public safety threat that I take seriously. I know first hand of the perils of hard drugs. I lost two uncles to substance abuse. One of the privileges of the office of Sheriff is the ability to positively influence our children on healthy alternatives. Many people in this community know me as not just a law enforcement officer, but as an artist. And in my work as an artist, I can act as a role model for students, that someone can be creative, edgy and fulfilled without the need for drugs.
These three initiatives will enhance the quality of life for all residents of Pitkin County, making it a more enlightened, safer community.