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Braudis backs DiSalvo

Naomi Havlen

Joe DiSalvo will keep his job as chief of investigations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office even if he is convicted of a municipal assault charge, Sheriff Bob Braudis has said.But whether being convicted for this misdemeanor will be a public relations nightmare for the sheriff’s office isn’t something Braudis thinks he has to worry about, he said Friday.”I imagine some people would have questions, and I think I can answer them all,” he said. “Joe has worked for me for 15 years, and I think the allegations constitute an aberration to the core personality of Joe DiSalvo.”DiSalvo was charged last Tuesday with misdemeanor assault and battery after striking a man in the bar area of Jimmy’s restaurant in Aspen, where he was having dinner off-duty with his wife and friends. According to a police report, DiSalvo said the victim, Thomas Blake, had gotten in his face and appeared ready to hit him.DiSalvo is not commenting but his attorney, Pamela Mackey, has said her client acted in self-defense. DiSalvo, who has a municipal court hearing in Aspen Wednesday, is on voluntary administrative leave from the sheriff’s office.”This is analogous to the wide receiver who catches 100 passes during the season and then perhaps drops one in the end zone during the playoffs,” Braudis said. “Do you castigate him for the mistake – assuming anyone has made a mistake in this instance – or do you recognize the total package presented by that person?”If DiSalvo is convicted, the effect on his certification as a peace officer is unclear, a state official said.All law enforcement officers in Colorado must be certified in the Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST. According to POST director John Kammerzell, when an officer is convicted of a crime it can result in the revocation of POST certification.”We, in fact, do revoke licenses of officers annually,” Kammerzell said. “There are 14,000 certified peace officers in the state, and last year we took action in 15 cases. The majority of those were for felonies.”In many of those cases the individual was not working as a peace officer, but still held a certificate from POST, he said. Once someone loses this license, it is impossible to be re-certified, and their case goes into a national database, effectively blocking them from ever serving as a police officer again – in this state and across the nation.”We’re serious about that, and we’re serious about our profession,” Kammerzell said.Any peace officer convicted for a felony automatically loses his or her certification, and in 2001, Gov. Bill Owens signed into law a bill listing misdemeanors that could affect POST certification.Although third-degree assault appears on that list, a charge of municipal assault “often doesn’t meet the same criteria” as the misdemeanors in the bill, Kammerzell said. “It’s just interpretation of the law. If there is a conviction that meets the test, POST takes action to provide the officer with a hearing, and ultimately the individual’s license to perform as a peace officer can be revoked or suspended.”Misdemeanors on the list include soliciting for prostitution, resisting arrest, harassment and charges relating to marijuana and other drugs.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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