Robert Allen
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

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November 28, 2009
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Breckenridge cops cracking down on 'aggressive' skiers

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Local police officers could be more noticeable on the lower slopes and terrain parks at Breckenridge Ski Resort this winter to enforce the Colorado Ski Safety Act.

"In the past maybe it wasn't considered as much of a priority, but there has been some trend over the last couple years where we've seen more aggressive behavior," Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman said on Wednesday.

The Town Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to an ordinance for people accused of Ski Safety Act violations to be dealt with in town court. Previously, town police officers have cited people under the state law, which goes through Summit County Court.

The act's criminal violations include skiing on a closed trail or out of bounds, skiing while impaired by drugs or alcohol and failing to give one's name and address to a ski area employee when involved in a collision with another skier or boarder.

Though the town was recently in the national spotlight for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, Holman said he doesn't expect more people to be skiing stoned.

Regarding discussions with the ski area, there have been "no conversations about expecting more people to ski under the influence," he said.

The town has undergone a series of budget and staffing reductions this year and Holman said there's not yet a concrete plan for how enforcement might be changed for this winter.

"I don't know that we'll have a much more visible presence," Holman said at Tuesday's town council work session, adding that his department will be "trying to seek out opportunities" to help curb aggressive behavior.

While Summit County Sheriff's Office covers any ski areas within the county, the town police department's jurisdiction goes about 150 yards up Breckenridge Ski Resort's lowest trails. It also includes the terrain park on Peak 8 as well as the gondola and other areas.

"If you can slow some of those people down that almost take out my kids, I'll be real happy," town councilwoman Jen McAtamney said to Holman at the work session.

With regard to increasing visibility, Holman said Wednesday there's a modified uniform police officers can wear on the lifts and while skiing.

"We did it a few times last spring," he said, adding that he hopes such enforcement can be used during some peak times.

Town attorney Tim Berry said at Tuesday's work session that Ski Safety Act violations can be dealt with more quickly in town court than county court.

"Our judge may be a little more attuned to the way we like the law applied. Not to criticize the county, but we like the way things are handled (at the municipal level) a little bit better," he said. "I don't expect a lot to be filed."

rallen@summitdaily.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Nov 28, 2009 09:40AM Published Nov 28, 2009 09:39AM Copyright 2009 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.