Sheriff: Police told not to repeat raids
Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick has said drug busts like the one at two of Aspen’s oldest restaurants Dec. 2 will not be repeated, according to the Pitkin County sheriff.”He said nothing like this is ever going to happen again as long as he’s city manager,” said Sheriff Bob Braudis, who attended a meeting with Barwick and Police Chief Loren Ryerson on Wednesday afternoon. Ryerson’s take on the meeting was different.Braudis also said Barwick indicated that he agreed with Braudis’ philosophies regarding undercover work, that it should not be done.The Wednesday afternoon meeting, called by Barwick, came in the wake of a Dec. 2 raid on Little Annie’s Eating House and Cooper Street Pier, two long-established eateries in the heart of Aspen’s core shopping district. The meeting was convened after Braudis complained that Ryerson failed to notify the sheriff’s office of the operation in advance.Ryerson, however, said the major outcome of the meeting was that “we all agreed to work together” on a review of police procedures and policies concerning the enforcement of drug laws in Aspen. Attempts to contact Barwick were unsuccessful Thursday.Ryerson also said the meeting was “very productive and friendly and diplomatic.” “If you’re asking if there’s going to be another raid next week,” Ryerson said, “no. I don’t anticipate it happening again. I hope to heck never to have to arrest another person on drug charges or for dealing drugs.”But, he added, “I have no idea if this set of circumstances would ever present itself again.”Barwick has called for a Jan. 17 City Council work session to discuss the issue of the police department’s policy and procedures in drug enforcement; he has told Braudis he would like his input in the discussion.Ryerson said the department’s drug enforcement policy dates to 1993 and the council updated it in 2003.”I think the policy has worked,” he said Thursday. No one was injured in the raid, which netted nine individuals arrested on drug charges, one man arrested on an unrelated warrant and 11 arrested on alleged violations of immigration law. Eyewitnesses have said guns were drawn at Little Annie’s, at least, and that children were among the patrons seated at the tables there.The police department ran the investigation and the raids, with Assistant Chief Glenn Schaffer acting as the chief organizer. It involved undercover “buys” of drugs by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents, with the local police handling logistical and other support work.Braudis has also criticized the decision to conduct the raid in the afternoon, when skiers are just coming off the mountains, citing concern for the safety of bystanders and officers alike.But Ryerson stressed that no one was hurt in the raid, noting, “You guys [the local newspapers] keep forgetting to print that nobody got hurt. You just keep speculating on what could have happened. I think both are valid.”John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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