Referees of society
November 29, 2006
Watching police training was a little shocking. It was odd, for a moment, to see a Pitkin County deputy or Aspen Police officer beat the heck out of a pad with a baton. But the training gave me a window into what police face and what they need to be ready for. Sure, officers in the valley rarely, if ever, have to draw a gun. Roaring Fork Valley cops don’t really play in the same league as urban law officers.”I worked with career criminals, gangs and stuff,” said Seamans, of his five years in the LAPD. But, he continued, the training fundamentals here are basically the same – not because officers actually face the same threats on a daily basis, but because they must be prepared for those possibilities. Watching Seamans enter a scenario where he had to break up two people fighting got my blood pumping even though the two combatants were police in protective gear. It’s his job to break it up, make sure people don’t get hurt and make sure he doesn’t get hurt. In a game of soccer or football or rugby, a referee is rarely, if ever, the hero. And it’s usually fair to say the referee needs new glasses. All too often, the peace officer plays a similar role, on a social level. When everything goes perfectly, the officer can still sometimes catch flack. And when something goes wrong, it’s generally open season.As a reporter whose job is, in part, to point out when something isn’t quite right, I’m usually on the other side of the fence from the cops. Going to training was a view into the difficulties of walking an extremely fine line. There’s no question that being a cop, even in a community as safe as Aspen, is a damned hard job.