The real deal on the Pitco sheriff’s race
August 31, 2006
I would like to address Michael Cleverly’s opinion article published on Aug. 20 in the Aspen Times Weekly in regards to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s race. His column, “So what kind of cops does Pitco want?” contains numerous errors and is full of conjecture.First, lets deal with the case of Tom Frampton. Officers were dispatched to Mr. Frampton’s apartment for an in-progress domestic violence call, the most dangerous type of call police for a police officer. Mr. Cleverly states “The guy was in his own home having a nap after a couple.” The truth is somewhat different. According to the police report, Frampton walked out of detox on July 18, 2003, the day this incident occurred. When he got home he started drinking shots of Jim Beam. His sister and daughter were with him. They were trying to keep him calm as he continued to drink and become belligerent. When Frampton tried to get up from his bed, his sister pushed him down. Frampton threatened, “If you push me again, I’ll put you in a shallow grave and I’ll have to raise your kids.” Frampton then got up, walked over to an open window and urinated through the screen while yelling and screaming at people outside. He went back to bed and tried to get up again; this time his daughter pushed him back down. Frampton became irate and advanced toward his daughter. She pepper-sprayed him and called the police. Frampton became enraged, grabbed a barbecue skewer and threatened to kill everyone.Frampton’s daughter then called the police. The police responded, went upstairs to the hallway and saw Frampton in a partially opened doorway to his apartment. Frampton held the large barbecue skewer above his head and yelled at the police “You’re going down, boy. Come get me.” The police repeatedly ordered Frampton to drop the weapon. He refused, and one officer fired a taser at Frampton. The taser missed and Frampton threw the skewer at one of the officers. The skewer hit the top of the door frame where Frampton was standing. A third officer arrived and the police attempted to subdue the now-unarmed Frampton. He fought and was tased three times before he was taken into custody. Two officers were treated and released from Aspen Valley Hospital. Frampton was convicted of assault on a police officer and sentenced to 15 months in prison. Anyone can get the police report from the records department; it is case No. 03A1036. Mr. Cleverly describes this event as “a guy having a beer in his living room.” He wants you to believe that the Aspen Police Department operates with a “storm-trooper mentality.” He relates this incident to the drug bust at Cooper Street and Little Annie’s and the taser incident of a homeless woman. All three events are unique. The police acted with generous restraint in the Frampton incident. He engaged the police with lethal force, and they responded with the most effective tool at their disposal. Fortunately no one was seriously injured.The taser incident of the homeless woman was egregious and the officer in question was fired for her actions. They did not represent the true nature of the Aspen Police Department. Officers are often forced to make split-second decisions under duress. We are human and can make mistakes. This one cost Officer Calvano her job.The drug busts, while I agree philosophically with arresting drug dealers, were executed in an unreasonable fashion. The police must always remember that we need to operate within community standards. Citizens entrust police to enforce laws, and the police need to remember that we rely on community approval and support. Mr. Cleverly continues, “he [Magnuson] should be applying for a job torturing the truth out of rag heads at Gitmo rather than running for sheriff in one of the most liberal counties in the country.” To imply that someone with 10 years of community policing would suddenly turn the county into a fascist police state is ridiculous and laughable. I am extremely tolerant and open-minded. That is why Bob Braudis tried to hire me on numerous occasions – he knows that my laid-back attitude would fit well in his department. I have been a member of the ACLU since 2003. I was honored as one of the five best contemporary artists in Colorado in 2004. I value and will protect civil liberties.Mr. Cleverly continues, “When Magnuson snuck around looking into Braudis’ recent spa experience, it was essentially the dogcatcher taking it upon himself to check up on the highest-ranking peace officer in the county.”To answer Mr. Cleverly calling me a dogcatcher: I am proud to be a member of the Aspen Police Department for more than 10 years. During that time I have responded to detox calls, hundreds of car accidents, many involving serious injury or death, suicides, fights, drug overdoses and numerous ambulance calls involving CPR. I have personally given CPR to two members of this community who are alive today.Mr. Cleverly euphemizes about “Braudis’ recent spa experience.” According to their website, “All Desert Canyon clients have some level of dependency or addiction to alcohol, drugs or prescription drugs. The cost of the 28-day program is $21,500. Desert Canyon is not a “spa” or a “wellness center” as The Aspen Times reported on the front page on July 7. It is an alcohol and drug treatment center.I applaud Sheriff Braudis for tackling his issues. I told him so when he returned to work. It is my sincerest wish that he succeed in maintaining his healthy lifestyle. I lost three uncles to substance-abuse problems. I know how it can shatter lives and ruin families. Undoubtedly the best way to help people with substance abuse is through education and support. Sheriff Braudis had an opportunity to educate people about substance abuse, as Magic Johnson did with HIV, by coming out into the open about it. Instead he opted for a furtive retreat.I like Bob Braudis, he is an engaging, intelligent man. We have both agreed to try to keep this campaign out of the mud. We both want to talk about our philosophical differences and let the voters decide. That requires journalistic integrity and/or skeptical readers. I urge the media to report objectively, for the benefit of all concerned citizens.It seems that the mighty Braudis political propaganda machine is running smoothly. I will not respond to these reckless attacks with equal venom. That only confuses and alienates voters. We all owe it to the voters to engage in truthful dialogue, void of personal attacks, overstatements and emotions. Please visit my website, thenewsheriff.org, e-mail me or talk to me on the streets. I think you’ll find no one more passionate about this community and its people. That’s why I’m running – I want to reinvigorate an office created to protect and serve everyone.Rick Magnuson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.