A little restraint, perhaps? | AspenTimes.com

A little restraint, perhaps?

Dear Editor:

As a part-time resident of Snowmass Village I have been greatly impressed by the Roaring Fork Valley’s law enforcement people or rather, since I have not had dealings with them, by the job they do.

However, a recent encounter indicates that possibly those involved in policing in an international resort community may need briefing on how to cope with cultural differences.

The incident occurred when I was pulled over by an officer for doing 42 mph in a 35-mph zone. It was, as the British say, “a fair cop.” I had inadvertently broken the law and deserved to be pulled over and cautioned, having not realized a 35-mph zone (not 30, as the officer said) extended from just past the Snowmass Center in Snowmass Village to the roundabout on Brush Creek Road.

The officer was just doing his job, but I question whether it was really necessary to threaten a totally inoffensive smiling, small in stature, elderly man with a weapon, because he gets out of his car to meet and greet the officer, as is the custom in his homeland Australia and country of birth England. This on a sunny day in early afternoon, not on a dark road at night. Should officers not be briefed that in many countries, a motorist is obliged to get out of the car when pulled over?

Fortunately I was quick on the uptake and responded immediately to the command “get back in the car,” though the word “please” would not have gone astray, and having in an earlier life served his country in a capacity where shooting and being shot at were part of the daily experience, was not traumatized by being menaced with a weapon, but had this not been the case, trauma or injury could have resulted. Being threatened by a weapon is certainly not the experience of Australians, who right at the moment seem to comprise a large proportion of visitors to the Aspen/Snowmass area.

My plea then is that police understand that Snowmass gets many visitors from lands where a friendly relationship exists between the police and the policed. So if a motorist pulled over for a law infringement gets out of his car and obviously poses no threat whatsoever, an officer might suspect that offender may come from a country where this is expected.

Certainly, there is no need to threaten an obviously unarmed elderly man with a weapon. Brandishing a weapon at someone more than double his or her age may give an officer a power surge, but if a misunderstanding happens and the weapon is used, then the resulting publicity for Snowmass could be catastrophically damaging, not to mention the compensation a court might award to the victim.

Ian Sanderson

Snowmass Village

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