Sheriff says investigation not needed
November 17, 2006
Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis isn’t sure why a Nov. 10 incident at the Aspen Police Station and an anonymous letter caused such a fuss.Braudis called the incident a molehill turned into a mountain.The newly re-elected sheriff was in transit from vacation in California and funeral services for his friend, “60 Minutes” anchor Ed Bradley, who died Nov. 9 in New York.Braudis said he has been following the incident in Aspen with phone calls to staff, including Joe DiSalvo, head of investigations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, who was upset about recent statements in the press.”In our conversations over the last few days, I’ve continued to commend him,” Braudis said. “In essence, DiSalvo exhibited my philosophy that we are here to help people.”On Tuesday, Aspen police and local newspapers received a typed letter from an unconfirmed source accusing DiSalvo, head of investigations for the sheriff’s office, of inappropriate behavior and criminal conduct during a heated incident Nov. 10 involving a mother and her teenage boys.
Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson, who read the letter Tuesday, called for an independent investigation into the accusations. The mother of the boys, however, since has disputed the letter’s allegations of criminal conduct against DiSalvo. She said DiSalvo did act inappropriately – yelling at her unruly sons – but later apologized and has since been very helpful to the family.Given the mother’s account, Braudis doesn’t think the matter warrants an investigation.”If I were to get [a letter] like that, I wouldn’t use it in an investigative form,” Braudis said. He called the allegations ridiculous and said that without being able to substantiate the source or the evidence, he has no interest in it.In a phone conversation with Ryerson, Braudis said he would not impede any investigation, but said he disagreed with an investigation based on a letter attributed to an unknown source.Braudis said Ryerson “felt duty-bound to kick it over to an impartial agency” for further investigation.”In my mind, it was resolved, because if there were a victim it would have been the boy, but there was no complaint filed,” Braudis said.
Tom Grady, director of operations for the Sheriff’s Office, conducted an investigation, Braudis said, and found there was no need for any disciplinary action. “He felt there was no harm, no foul in the case,” Braudis said.Braudis praised DiSalvo’s actions. On the day after the incident, while local agencies were unable to help – Braudis characterized the organizations as “impotent” or uninterested – DiSalvo was busy trying to find a place for one of the boys to stay.”Joe spent a whole day – his day off – trying to work things out,” Braudis said.Braudis also said the question of who wrote the letter is moot.”We will probably never figure out who wrote that [letter] unless the person courageously comes forward and identifies themselves,” he said.
“I’m going to meet with Loren and with [City Manager] Steve Barwick when I get back and find out what caused the statements to be made based on an unattributable letter to the editor.”Braudis admitted to “philosophical differences at the administrative level” between the Sheriff’s Office and Aspen police. Braudis said he was irked when Ryerson claimed the Sheriff’s Office “fell through the cracks” in the December 2005 cocaine busts at Cooper Street Pier and Little Annie’s Eating House. Braudis said the county office was not called in and said it was a major safety issue.”I make an assumption that we’re all working in an adult environment and that we should be able to resolve any frictions,” he said.The sheriff said the county and city have shared the basement of the courthouse for 20 years, they also share intelligence, cooperate and regularly back each other up.”We have become greater than the sum of our parts,” Braudis said, highlighting collaborative efforts like the September visit of Iraqi prime minister Jalal Talabani. And any friction at the administrative level “does not filter down to the troops in the trenches.”Charles Agar’s e-mail address is email@example.com.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.