A detective with perspective | SummitDaily.com

A detective with perspective

SILVERTHORNE – Kevin Trimbath encourages any police officer who thinks his or her department is disorganized to visit Eastern Europe – that perspective of relative disorganization will quickly change.

Trimbath, a detective with the Silverthorne Police Department, spent three years doing police work for the United Nations. In 1998, he left Summit County for Bosnia to work as a trainer for the police academy there. After a short visit back home, Trimbath left again in 2000 for Pristina, Yugoslavia, known now to most Americans as Kosovo, where he worked as a security specialist.

To a large extent, the experience is shaping the way he approaches his work back at home.

“Over there, nobody stood up for victims,” Trimbath said. “So I take cases more personally now. I now realize I work for the victims.”

As part of the United Nations force, Trimbath worked with people from 47 different countries. He learned a great deal about culture. In Bosnia, for example, he said, new police recruits were accustomed to life under dictator, and now war criminal, Slobodan Milosevic, “where if they didn’t like you, you’re gone.”

In Kosovo, where Christian and Muslim factions were sorting out generations of conflict and recent genocide, Trimbath was responsible for helping former enemies to work together as security teams for war crimes trials and government officials.

Trimbath said that in both countries, he learned plenty of history first-hand. Although he had a U.N. job, he was responsible for finding his own housing and lived in apartments among the locals. In a couple of months, he said, neighbors laid bare for him the complexities of foreign conflicts that are only briefly explained on CNN.

Not surprisingly, the cultural view of police in his new situation was not a trusting one.

“They expect the police won’t do anything unless you pay them,” Trimbath said. “It’s a lot easier now dealing with different cultures (in Silverthorne). You know how to approach them because you know what they expect. And if you learn just one word in their language, they open up and begin to respect you.”

Trimbath got even more out of his international experience. Still hankering for travel upon his return in 2002, he left again, spending a month at an orphanage in India. He modestly described his work there as “getting some shoes for the children for the first time.”

Often left with no electricity at night in Eastern Europe, Trimbath found himself working on personal projects. By the time he returned, he finished a book on speed-writing, his own version of shorthand. He also invented a heated pen for writing in conditions that would normally freeze ink. Trimbath said he recently obtained a patent for the invention and will send the proceeds to his adopted Indian orphanage.

But lately, Trimbath admitted, his projects have been limited to some piano lessons and golf.

“Yeah, crime takes up most of my time now,” he said.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

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