Thanks, APD, for busting all those kitchen workers
December 13, 2005
Looks like the Aspen Police Department’s image could use some rehabilitating. Maybe they could make one of those wacky videos like the guys in San Francisco did. If people don’t like it, then Chief Ryerson could trot out his “Yeah, but nobody got hurt” line again.Actually, we all owe the APD, the DEA the Snowmass PD and almost every other state and federal agency a great big “thank you” for the Dec. 2 raid that saved us from all those Mexican kitchen workers with bindles of coke. I was worried sick, couldn’t sleep. My dreams were haunted by images of Latino dishwashers in their antiseptic white outfits, engaged in running gun battles on the streets of Aspen, blood on their aprons, shouting in that foreign tongue of theirs.We’re safe now, thanks to everyone but the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department and the Boy Scouts of America. Maybe the BSA are the ones who should look into the ethics of this situation. I’m told that they’re supposed to have a handle on this sort of thing, unlike Chief Ryerson.In conducting this action without notifying the Sheriff’s Department, the chief has ignored policy. He has apologized. He seems to feel that it’s OK to do whatever he wants as long as he says that he’s sorry afterward. I bet the guys who got busted in “the raid” are sorry too – perhaps the chief should let them go.One of the ancillary benefits of “the raid” is that we have now clearly identified the cannon fodder in the valley’s war on drugs. Personally, I’m stuffing my bindles in my sombrero, wrapping it in my dishwasher apron, and hiding it under the bed until things cool down.Of course it’s not all positive. I can’t wait until the first time people sit down to dinner at The Little Nell and find themselves eating off paper plates with plastic knives and forks. They’ll probably be joining the ranks of tourists (some of whom have already written letters to the editor) who’ll be buying their overpriced lift tickets somewhere else next time around. This group surely includes every visitor who was in Cooper Street or Little Annie’s during “the raid,” along with everyone that they talk to between now and next ski season. But that’s OK – it’s the price of keeping us safe from Mexican kitchen workers with bindles. I’m sure the folks at the Skiing Company don’t mind.Chief Ryerson claims that he can’t compute the actual cost of the raid because, well, a lot of the cops were on duty anyway and …Maybe the Chief should check himself into the emergency room at Aspen Valley Hospital some time. He’ll find that the doctors, nurses and technicians are all on duty when he gets there. He’ll also find that AVH has no problem whatever computing his bill, even though the doctors, etc. would have been there anyway. (The bill, by the way, will probably send him right back to the emergency room.)Our passive-aggressive Mayor Klanderud’s response to this issue was , once again, to declare it a non-issue, not requiring a response. I don’t know where Helen learned this tactic, but it seems to be working for her. Maybe the voters of Aspen have their heads buried in the same pile of sand that she does. As far as I’m concerned, if ever there was an issue that needed addressing, then this is it. Oh well, never mind, lets talk about the S-curves some more.It doesn’t take a political genius to conclude that it would be best if the law enforcement agencies in the basement of the courthouse both had the same philosophical underpinnings. It seems to me that the mayor, the City Council and the city manager have to decide if they agree with the Dick Kienast-Marty Hershey-Bob Braudis philosophy of law enforcement, or if they simply think it’s wrongheaded. If they don’t like it, then they should say so, and start looking for someone to run against Sheriff Braudis next time. If they do agree with the liberal (oops, dirty word), enlightened, approach to things, then they should probably look into changes on the other side.It cost the taxpayers about $80,000 to come up with previous police Chief Joe Cortez. If memory serves, he lasted less than a year. He didn’t fit in – something about undercover cops in bars. Chief Ryerson was promoted from within. Hardly cost us a dime; a “you’re hired” paper airplane was floated down a stairwell in the county courthouse. The conflict with his administration involves exactly the same sort of issues as Cortez.The differing approaches to victimless crime issues aren’t a matter of one being right and the other being wrong. It’s not that kind of question. Reasonable people can argue both sides. The question is, “What approach does the community want?”When Pitkin County elects a “Dirty Harry” sheriff, then it will be time for Cortez, Ryerson, and Schaffer. So far, the people have spoken clearly and consistently for many years in re-electing sheriff Braudis. If the people who are running things have an iota of interest in responding to the views of Aspen citizens, then they will, right quick, start trying to figure out how to change things.Cheer up – these issues have been around for the 30-something years that I’ve been in the valley, and probably longer. Aspen hasn’t yet evolved into a fetid hell-hole of excess and depravity.That’s up on Red Mountain.