Vail cops now on ski beat
February 21, 2006
Cops patrolling the slopes of Vail Mountain are often met with enthusiastic greetings and offers of thanks, but some skiers and snowboarders say the mountain is overpoliced.
“I can understand if they help out when there’s a crime committed,” said Taylor Alexander of Atlanta. “But it seems like local police up on the mountain actively seeking out a crime is wrong. It’s completely overpolicing.”
Alexander didn’t appear to be breaking any law. But committing crimes is one reason police say a small percentage of skiers and snowboarders don’t like having Eagle County sheriff’s deputies and Vail police on the mountain.
“The ones violating the law probably aren’t to happy to see us,” Deputy Ted Eichholz said, later adding, “A lot of it is meeting and greeting ” they love seeing us up here.”
The love was later evidenced by a woman winking and yelling, “Where’s your radar,” as she scooted by Vail Detective Christian Mohr at the top of the Vista Bahn.
Eagle County sheriff’s deputies and Vail police volunteer on their days off to assist ski patrol and the yellow-jacket safety squad on Vail Mountain, which falls under the sheriff’s jurisdiction. Deputies and police also enforce the law ” arresting for ducking ropes, drugs, assault and shoplifting, Mohr said, adding that they arrest about one person each month.
“Occasionally an assault starts after a collision,” Eichholz said. “Next thing you know, a fight is breaking out.”
Patrolling on the mountain for seven days earns the officer a season pass, an opportunity for which nearly a dozen people at each department clamor.
“They love it. It’s awesome,” Mohr said. “Anybody intermediate or above is on the team.”
Police flank yellow-jackets in slow zones and only get involved at the rare times they’re needed, Mohr said. Standing with yellow-jackets and slowing down skiers and snowboarders riding at breakneck speeds is exactly where Mark Cranley of Cleveland wants the cops.
“My take on this is they gotta put these people in the slow zones,” Cranley said. “[Skiers and snowboarders] don’t pay attention to the guys in the yellow jackets.”
David Cohen of Houston said he didn’t see any problems on the mountain during his trip to Vail. “If they’re trying to prevent crime and aren’t being invasive, then it’s a good cause,” Cohen said.