Police handle teens, scuffle
November 15, 2006
A single mother of two unruly teenage boys got the help she needed when she came to the Aspen police station, and she wants to tell her story.She said Joe DiSalvo, head of investigations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, said some inappropriate things to her boys, and there was a brief scuffle when police tried to separate the kids. But DiSalvo later apologized and has since been very supportive.After an e-mail tip from Basalt resident June Tramwell, The Aspen Times ran a front-page story Tuesday about the investigation into the incident Nov. 9 at the Aspen police station. On Wednesday evening, the mother, who wanted to remain anonymous, called The Aspen Times to tell her side of the story. Police confirmed the mother’s identity by her telephone number but could not comment. There were no arrests or charges in the case, and police could not disclose any names because the ongoing investigation involves juveniles.
Her children were out of control, the mother said. The boys had been implicated in prank phone calls, and the police called the mother. The mother and two boys had an argument, and the boys decided they did not want to come home that night. Officers picked up the boys separately and brought them to the Aspen police station, where the two were uncooperative.”They were being rude to the police,” the mother said. That’s when DiSalvo said inappropriate things, she said, and when police tried to separate the boys the situation turned into a scuffle. She said DiSalvo was not in the middle of the melee.”The kids had tested everyone to their limit,” she said, and the boys were very unruly. “He raised his voice and said some things to the boys,” she said. And while DiSalvo’s comments were “not anything like sexual harassment,” she said, they were inappropriate. But after he said them, the veteran officer did an unusual thing, she said: He apologized. DiSalvo set an example for her sons, she said, owning up to his behavior and saying he was sorry.
“Joe apologized to me and the children, and since then has been very helpful,” she said. The boys also apologized and admitted they were wrong. And after a long day at the police station, from about 10 a.m. into the evening, officers were able to defuse the situation. The mother and one son went home and the older son spent the evening with friends in Aspen. “Joe called for several nights afterward,” she said. And the support of police, who offered their homes and help, awed the mother. DiSalvo pledged his support to get the boys into a mentoring program. “It was way beyond their job.” “That tells me they care about my children,” she said. “Things turned out a lot better.””The kids left with respect because Joe apologized,” she said. “My children were in trouble that day, and Joe helped out. We don’t have anything bad to say about Joe.”
DiSalvo helped turn a negative situation into a positive, she said, and a lot of good has come from the incident.”The kids and I are getting the help that we need,” she said, and she is grateful for the community’s support. She does not want anything bad to happen to DiSalvo as a result of the incident.In an interview Tuesday, Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson advocated an independent investigation into the incident. Neither DiSalvo nor police officials would comment Wednesday on the case.DiSalvo has run afoul of the law in the past – an off-duty punch-up at Jimmy’s restaurant in 2004 cost him cash and reputation, but the case was dismissed after a year. Charles Agar’s e-mail address is email@example.com.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.