Keep APD open, honest | AspenTimes.com

Keep APD open, honest

Dear Editor:The Bush administration would be proud of Chief Ryerson and the APD. A chip of the old block. A while back Ryerson wanted a SWAT team (i.e. militarize the police force). In December, he took the cowboy approach to drug enforcement raiding downtown restaurants without the support of (or even informing) the Sheriff’s Office. Now, one of Ryerson’s officers Tasers a senior citizen. Although Bush would be proud of APD’s aggressive, shoot first, ask questions later approach, even the president knows now that you must first designate a person as an enemy combatant before you are allowed to torture by electrocution. Last time I checked, old homeless people don’t qualify.However, the most disturbing page Ryerson takes from Bush’s book (“How to Turn a Democracy into a Police State in Eight Short Years”) is the secrecy, the absence of disclosure. Why be secret? That’s easy: If what you do is kept secret, you can’t be held accountable. Is that what is going on here? Ryerson’s dictum to the public regarding the Taser investigation says it all, “You’ll know that it’s over with, but that’s it.” Does this sound like someone who feels accountable to the Aspen citizenry? He says, “these circumstances are being taken seriously.” Great, but what the hell does that mean specifically? In the end, does it mean that Ryerson, and Ryerson alone, will decide when it is appropriate to Taser old ladies? What about children? Is a resistant 10-year-old stealing a candy bar fair game? Just what are the parameters, and what are the consequences for not staying within them?Does the public have no say? We are talking about a public employee performing a public action on behalf of the public (you know … for the people, by the people, of the people). The investigation itself is paid for by the public, yet Chief Ryerson is denying us access. This smells. It smells to high heaven. I sincerely hope The Aspen Times follows the Valley Journal’s lead and takes this matter to court on the public’s behalf. Better and simpler yet, Ryerson, on his own, could decide to change his course and the department’s course by being forthcoming with his community. Protect and serve, chief, protect and serve.Rand DouthitAspen

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