A night with Breckenridge police
February 12, 2008
BRECKENRIDGE ” The fight call crossed the radio shortly after midnight. “Party is bleeding on sidewalk,” the dispatcher said, following a description of the suspect who fled on foot from Cecilia’s bar.
Within seconds, Breckenridge Police Officer Lyn Herford flipped her vehicle around on Main Street, arrived in front of La Cima Mall, made sure the victim was being attended to and went after the suspect who witnesses tracked down the street.
She caught him in front of Omni Real Estate, and along with two other officers, interviewed the man who would later be charged with second degree assault. As the snow poured from the moonlit sky, Gregory Lee Meyer, 28, of Illinois, stood in a collared shirt and jeans with his hands on a police vehicle. He admitted to police that he “crossed the line” and asked if he could use some snow to cool his fist.
On this Friday night in January that started quietly on patrol, the Wednesday through Saturday night team ” Sgt. Rich Watson and Officers Jim Boyle, Steve Block, Tom Kirksey, Dave Bucksath and Herford ” dealt with this assault case, a noise complaint, DUI and a number of other calls along their patrol rounds. Herford took the lead on the assault that landed the victim, soaked in blood and requiring stitches, at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.
Herford sat down by the side entrance of the police department to stretch metal grip YakTrax across the bottom of her black shoes before heading out about 10 p.m. to the police SUV she drives, No. 3.
She tested the lights, radar and sirens, walked around inspecting the vehicle, checked the guns in the front and trunk, examined the portable breath test device and Automatic External Defibrillator. With everything in order, she climbed into the front seat, ready to log on the computer system as BP41.
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The number lets dispatch know she’s on duty, she explained.
Herford, who is a longtime local in the county, started working in the Summit County Jail about five years ago, when her son was a freshman at Summit High School. She had run businesses in the past and decided it was time for a change. Through the experience, she became interested in policing and started with Breckenridge Police Department as a community service officer before attending police academy in Jefferson County about two years ago.
As she drove down Main Street, she lowered her front windows a couple inches. This way, she can hear what is being said and be able to say “hi” to people, she said.
“We police a lot by presence,” Herford added, shortly before a group of guys exiting Salt Creek Steakhouse and Club stopped her for advice about getting back to their hotel. She called them a ride.
It was shortly before midnight when Herford met up with a couple other officers to start some foot patrol. Bar checks in La Cima Mall began. As they walked through the packed places and joked with the security and bartenders who know them well, they received mixed reactions from the patrons. Those who had clearly consumed a number of drinks looked them up and down in a slow, confused manner. Others started friendly conversations, asking what they were doing.
The idea is to be visible, look for those who are heavily intoxicated and advise the bartenders not to serve those people any more, and watch for disturbances and underage drinkers, Herford said.
They also talk to the managers and bartenders who “usually have a really good feel of the vibe that night,” she added.
At Burke and Riley’s Irish Pub, the owner, Mark Burke, welcomed them in enthusiastically. They shared a few laughs before the officers headed back to the road. While Herford drove back down Main Street, a young man walking in the middle of the lane quickly caught her attention. He looked unprepared for the winter weather and was a bit lost. So, she grabbed her phone and called a taxi for the shivering, relieved-looking man.
“We want to make sure people are headed in the right direction home and not in a snowbank, which has happened several times,” she said.
Just as she finished setting the visitor up with a ride, dispatch called out the fight in front of Cecilia’s.
Without hesitation, Herford sprung into action and caught Meyer, who now faces five to 16 years in prison if he is found guilty of second degree assault, a class 4 felony.
He was taken into custody by a couple of the other officers, and Herford met up with Officer Steve Block to take witness statements. They got the story from a Cecilia’s bouncer, who was certainly not a stranger to the police. He had called the fight in while one of the bartenders followed the suspect, pointing him out to police.
The story a couple witnesses shared was that Meyer had knocked the victim to the ground and “pummeled him in the face” ” a statement that matched up with the injuries inflicted.
The victim, in his 30s and visiting from out of state, was soaked in blood. Block took a few photos of his face while medical professionals loaded him in the back of an ambulance headed for St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
Herford finished gathering statements and followed behind not long after to get information from the victim and talk to the doctor. What injuries he sustained determined how Herford could charge the suspect.
Third degree assault is a misdemeanor, Herford explained. Second degree assault becomes a felony and is based on “serious bodily injury,” she said.
The victim sat up in the hospital bed with a sheet of dried blood coating his face. Just one streak of skin could be seen by his left eye where a tear had cut through. His other eye was swollen shut, surrounded by black and a deep cut on the top of his broken nose occasionally still trickled red.
He had come to Colorado on a business trip and Summit County was suppose to be a fun weekend ski adventure. Now, he was confused, laying in a hospital bed getting his face stitched up. He couldn’t even remember what happened.
A nurse worked to clean him up and then, he made a trip to the bathroom where he saw himself for the first time.
Down the hall, a deep, horrid moan could be heard, likely at the moment he looked in the mirror.
Herford called the victim’s friends who were in Summit County with him, but didn’t get a response. She decided to wait to give him a ride back to Breckenridge because otherwise he would have no way there.
The man was impressed with the community service and told her she had gone “above and beyond.”
As they walked from the emergency room, “Nightmare,” he said. “Imagine going on vacation … what a nightmare.”
At 4:10 a.m., Herford escorted him to entrance of the condo where he was staying, then took off for the police department to file the report and charges for the suspect who was being held at the jail. Meyer will have a bond appearance at the Summit County Courthouse March 12.