Letter: Teen arrest: Perhaps a blessing in disguise? | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Teen arrest: Perhaps a blessing in disguise?

Teen arrest: Perhaps a blessing in disguise?

As a parent of a high school student, I have been following with great interest the release of the video clip of the arrest of a local teen. The video and successive reporting has been picked up by The Associated Press and is now garnering national attention.

It causes me great concern that anyone would question our local police force action. Marijuana is now legal in Colorado — if you are 21 years old. It is illegal if you are younger than 21. Plain and simple.

I personally know a few of our local police officers in Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt. The officers I know are good people doing a good (and sometimes challenging) job as community servants. Their actions, from what I can determine in viewing the video of this particular arrest, appear to be completely appropriate and should not illicit any kind of apology to the community. The kid was doing something wrong in a blatant manner in a very visible and public location. I would hope that the entire community — school administrators, coaches, parents and student peers alike — would support our police force for keeping an eye out for those who don’t uphold legal behavior. There should be zero tolerance for underage kids drinking or using illegal drugs — especially 150 feet from an elementary school.

I ran into an old high school classmate at a reunion a few years ago. At the age of 17, he was suspended from high school. It was a wake-up call for him. He stated that, although painful at the time, he thinks that incident saved his life. I recall him saying, “I would be in prison or worse yet, dead,” if intervention had not occurred. He recounted that what he thought was some harmless pot smoking led quickly to heavier drugs and, in his own words, “a life of a loser.” As an adult, he now has a great family with high school and college-aged kids of his own and is a successful business leader. His life turned around for the better.

Perhaps the kid who was arrested, and all his upset friends, should take a brief pause for reflection and perhaps actually say “thank you” to Chief Richard Pryor and the officers who were simply doing their job. I would hope that this 16-year-old’s family and peers will support him to move on from a difficult moment and come out the other side in a better place. Had he been ignored and left unfettered and unchecked, without any recourse for his choices, perhaps this teen would end up in a much worse place in a few years’ time.

Doug Leibinger


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