Colorado attorney general discusses drug busts, Tasers | AspenTimes.com

Colorado attorney general discusses drug busts, Tasers

Joel Stonington

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Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers took a break from campaigning recently to address issues close to Aspenites’ hearts: drug busts and Taser use.”We need to make sure officers are properly trained,” Suthers said while in Aspen last week. “If there is no danger to the officer, then you don’t need to use a Taser.”He stressed that officers should use the least lethal form of force to protect themselves and others from danger. Officers do deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes down to protecting themselves, however.

“I think it’s all a training matter,” he said. “I know some departments require an officer to be shot by a Taser before they can carry a Taser.”Suthers also spoke about drug busts and how to curb drug use.”You’re not going to hear the top law enforcement officer in the state say don’t enforce drug laws,” said Suthers. “But I do think it takes a joint effort. We need to emphasize prevention and treatment.”He said that drug addiction has serious criminal impacts above distribution and use, and focused on how officers can be very important players in helping drug addicts.”Few people walk off the street and volunteer for drug treatment,” he said. “In the treatment community, they see law enforcement as an important component.”

Referring to the Dec. 2 drug raids in Aspen, Suthers stressed that communication between various forces is important if busts are going to be undertaken. “It becomes problematic when there is a lack of communication between different law enforcement groups,” he said. Campaigning on a platform of consumer protection, protecting Colorado’s water, Internet child predators, senior issues and aggressive criminal prosecution, Suthers commented on the environmental side of his job. He said he is securing monetary damages from the U.S. Army and Shell Oil regarding activities at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. He also spoke at length about his involvement in protecting Colorado’s water.”When we fight about water,” he said, “the fights are long and costly.”Suthers is also hot on the trail of Internet predators. He has worked to educate parents about the problem and has also helped make it easier for law enforcement to nab predators.”Kids are Internet savvy, but they’re naive about how sick some of these folks are,” Suthers said. “With parents it’s a whole different effort, they’re clueless.”

He helped change the law so it is now a felony if an adult simply offers an invitation to meet a juvenile; previously, the two had to meet. “Cops patrolling the Internet are a big part of getting these guys,” he said. “In the first month-and-a-half we arrested 12 people.”Suthers served as the district attorney of the Fourth Judicial District for two terms, beginning in 1988. He was later named executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, overseeing 6,000 employees and a $500 million budget. In 2001, George W. Bush nominated him as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado. In 2005, he became the 37th attorney general of Colorado. He is up for re-election in November.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com