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Old 12-26-2010, 10:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cops on the Slopes

They're out in full uniform and strapped! What do you guys think? Is it a good thing or is it just the 'man' trying to keep the free-spirited rebel snowboarders down. Here's the article from the denver post:


VAIL Ed Murphy leans closer and inspects the badge on Jessica Mayes' ski jacket.
"Really?" says the Washington, D.C., skier vacationing in Vail as he shuffles alongside Mayes in a lift line. "How wild is that? We're getting on line with a cop. We better behave ourselves."
"Really?" is the most common query fielded by Mayes and the six other Vail police officers who regularly volunteer to patrol Vail Mountain on skis. The second: "Do you ski with a gun?"
"It is part of the uniform," says Vail police Cmdr. Craig Bettis, who has never actually used it on the mountain but still sometimes answers: "James Bond skis with a gun."
Police officers on the hill are nothing new in Vail, where the local department
has partnered with the ski area's operators for six seasons.
Other ski areas, including Breckenridge, Monarch and Durango Mountain Resort, also welcome skiing cops, who, like at Vail, volunteer to ski in uniform and help with the occasional problem.
In exchange for their commitment to patrol the slopes for a certain number of days each year, the officers are given free season passes.

The officers don't seek out rule breakers. They'll stand behind patrollers and ski-area employees as they try to slow down skiers and snowboarders heading into crowded areas. They'll respond to an accident or any calls for help. They'll cast stern glances or flash a badge at rowdies who are, say, cursing in the lift line or cutting ropes. They'll pass out bags of plastic badges and police stickers to wide-eyed kids.
In addition to lending support to local patrollers and security, basic public relations is a big part of the on-slope patrolling. Mayes says it's fun to show kids and vacationers that up in the snowy hills, police officers can merge play and work.

Not out to ruin "good time"
"We aren't here to take away people's good time," says Bettis, a telemark skier who captains wide powder skis at mach speed. "We don't go out looking for specific stuff."
But when it comes to more serious crimes, like the occasional fisticuffs or ski theft, police work doesn't end at the pavement.

In Breckenridge, where officers have volunteer-patrolled the ski area for four seasons, the program has thwarted ski thefts. In 2007-08, the area saw a rash of thieves targeting high-end skis mostly Volkls at base-area lodges. Local police changed their tactic and began routinely patrolling the base areas and even setting up stings to lure ski thieves.

Since then, the department has seen thefts drop from 165 pairs of skis or snowboards stolen in 2007-08 to 57 last season. Similarly, police presence in lift lines has drastically reduced the number of people using borrowed ski passes and other "theft of services" crimes.
"We are getting positive reinforcement from citizens and ski-area employees," says Breckenridge Assistant Chief Greg Morrison, adding, "Really, it's not that unusual" to have police on the hill. "Any event in a city where you have 20,000 people, there are always a very small group of bad apples that can ruin the experience for the rest of the people."

At Monarch ski area, La Plata County sheriff's deputies have been skiing in uniform for two seasons. They have since been able to immediately respond to collisions that might have involved violations of the state Ski Safety Act as well as rare altercations inside the lodge. And, like at Breckenridge, ski thefts have plummeted 70 percent since police began hanging out and skiing at Monarch.
Just the occasional sighting of a police officer at the hill has helped, says La Plata County sheriff's Deputy Felicia McQueen, who runs the Monarch program.
"People don't know when we are going to be up there, and just word of mouth has led to lower numbers of incidents," McQueen says. "Every time we are up there, people come up and tell us how nice it is to see us up there."

The officers say they've never had any complaints about their presence.
Few skiers ignore warnings
At Vail, a special safety crew known as the Yellow Jackets promotes safety and tries to control skier speed. Members wave their arms and warn speedy skiers of approaching slow zones near congested intersections. And when there's a police officer behind the Yellow Jackets, few ignore the warnings.
"Really, what's a Yellow Jacket going to do? These guys are here to help us enforce the few rules we have," says Vail ski instructor Richard Honzo. "It's so nice to have them around."
Actually, say Bettis and Mayes, their heaviest enforcement tends to be the same as what any ski-area employee can do. Like the Yellow Jackets, the police are able to access skiers' pass information and and revoke the skiing privileges of egregious violators.

"All our enforcement is through either summons or season-pass access," Bettis says. "For the locals, what hits them hardest is when they lose their ski pass."
Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger, who launched the partnership with Vail ski area following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, says the program is more about developing better communication with both skiers and mountain workers than actually catching criminals.

"There is so little crime on the mountain," Henninger says. "I think a lot of it is about relationship building and just helping people's comfort level when they are out on the mountain."


Read more: Law and 'boarder: Police helping ski hills run smoothly - The Denver Post Law and 'boarder: Police helping ski hills run smoothly - The Denver Post
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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While it would certainly be a bummer if they confiscated your stash, it sounds like most of the things they're looking for are not 'victimless'. I'm not gonna point any fingers, but generally the people who complain the most about police presence are the ones who stand to benefit the most from lack of it. Assuming the cops aren't being dicks, of course.
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I could just picture getting on a lift with a cop, it would be so akward
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:03 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donutz View Post
While it would certainly be a bummer if they confiscated your stash, it sounds like most of the things they're looking for are not 'victimless'. I'm not gonna point any fingers, but generally the people who complain the most about police presence are the ones who stand to benefit the most from lack of it. Assuming the cops aren't being dicks, of course.
Some guy left this comment on the newspaper article and I agree with it.

"Thugs with guns ski free? Because their is so much crime on the ski hills?
The ski thefts they mentioned happened at the bottom of the hill why don't they hire a friendly person to keep an eye on things and give people directions and help?
Seems like another business that has such a big customer base they can mistreat them and still have plenty of revenue.

Welcome to the Vail Corporation."
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Meh. You don't like it, buy your own mountain.


"Thugs with guns" Is that quote from a retarded 15 year old? or a convict?
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah, because the thugs with guns are on the mountain, the thugs without guns have to behave themselves...
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donutz View Post
While it would certainly be a bummer if they confiscated your stash, it sounds like most of the things they're looking for are not 'victimless'. I'm not gonna point any fingers, but generally the people who complain the most about police presence are the ones who stand to benefit the most from lack of it. Assuming the cops aren't being dicks, of course.
Personally, I do not believe armed police officers should be the first line of defense, or a constant presence, at any private recreational facility. It sounds to me like Vail is simply too cheap to engage the necessary manpower to keep its problems under control. If equipment theft is a problem, hire security guards to keep an eye on the base areas. Or provide a free, outdoor ski check area. If misconduct on the slopes is a problem, increase the size of the ski patrol and be firm about ejecting troublemakers and/or revoking their resort privileges. Call the police only when force or the threat of force is truly necessary to quell a disturbance. Having police scan passes in lift lines is a waste of law enforcement time and another unnecessary and unpleasant incursion of state coercive authority into everyday life.
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I was sitting in a parked car late night a week ago when a cop came to do his usual rounds... we spent 15 minutes talking about snowboarding and the GoPro. He doesn't ride but was very interested and forgot why he came to check up on me in the first place haha

I regret not inviting him out
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Old 12-26-2010, 12:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeR View Post
Personally, I do not believe armed police officers should be the first line of defense, or a constant presence, at any private recreational facility. It sounds to me like Vail is simply too cheap to engage the necessary manpower to keep its problems under control. If equipment theft is a problem, hire security guards to keep an eye on the base areas. Or provide a free, outdoor ski check area. If misconduct on the slopes is a problem, increase the size of the ski patrol and be firm about ejecting troublemakers and/or revoking their resort privileges. Call the police only when force or the threat of force is truly necessary to quell a disturbance. Having police scan passes in lift lines is a waste of law enforcement time and another unnecessary and unpleasant incursion of state coercive authority into everyday life.
Can't disagree with that. As long as the private security was answerable for their actions -- sometimes private security is nastier than law enforcement, since they sometimes include failed cops and people who couldn't pass the psych and so forth.
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Old 12-26-2010, 12:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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One of my best friends is a cop. I love the guy and firmly believe he would do the right thing in any given situation.

I don't know these guys. They have a lot more power than just a simple ski patroller (who can still take your pass and kick you off the mountain). What if some friends and I are messing around, maybe cursing a little too loudly and we get summoned for disturbing the peace or something along those lines because a cop had a bad day/run? This concerns me.

Also, I'm a little concerned about skiing with guns... I realize that the safety mechanisms are pretty good nowadays, but there's still a chance of a misfire if someone falls, no?

Overall, I suppose it won't make such a huge difference that I'll notice much besides the occasional badge, I just really don't like the idea that we need to have law enforcement on the hills/mountains. It used to be that no one really worried about the symptoms they're there to address.
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