S’thorne police chief responds to residents’ concerns
SILVERTHORNE – Silverthorne Police Chief Kent Donahue wants to make sure what happened to the Croppers does not happen again.Donahue joined about a dozen Silverthorne residents at Wednesday’s Silverthorne town council meeting, where Lee and Mary Cropper said local law enforcement officers were “heavy-handed” and “volatile” when questioning the couple about a stolen truck parked in their driveway two weeks ago.”I’m not comfortable with the fact that we didn’t retain control or direct things a little more in something happening in our own community,” Donahue said on Thursday. He did not speak during Wednesday’s meeting. “As committed as we are to community policing and problem solving, this was not indicative of our best efforts,” Donahue added.Many of the concerns from the Ptarmigan area neighbors who spoke at the meeting focused on the fact that the incident took place in Silverthorne, but was led by Frisco officers and involved only one Silverthorne officer.The vehicle in question was taken from a home in Frisco.
In a sometimes shaky voice, Mary Cropper recalled the evening when the family was interrupted by police “beating loudly on the door” of their home on Hummingbird Circle. Officers from Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne and Colorado State Patrol staged a SWAT operation with guns pulled, Cropper said.Cropper said she did not see any badges or hats identifying the group as law enforcement officers and, when asked, the officers refused to identify themselves.After searching and questioning the Croppers and their 14-year-old son about the stolen vehicle, the police left.Frisco Detective Mark White said police believe a man who was recently arrested in Colorado Springs on suspicion of possession of stolen mail may have been involved in the car theft. Regardless, the Croppers want to make sure the town council and the police department don’t let this incident go unnoticed.
“This situation was volatile from the start,” Mary said. “Somebody could have been dead for a stolen car. I believe our community deserves better than this.” Silverthorne residents say this incident threatens the police department’s status in the community.”The purpose of the police is to protect and preserve, not to intimidate,” said resident Bruce Taylor. “It’s sending the wrong message. We want to have a good relationship between the community and the police department.”Donahue feels the same way.”I think the part of this that is most distressing is that our organization has spent years developing a positive, cooperative relationship with this community,” he said. “I hate to think that a few moments of bad judgment erases all of that.”The Silverthorne Police Department has conducted an internal investigation, although Donahue said he won’t comment on the results until Frisco has completed its investigation as well. Frisco’s report will also be independently reviewed by the Vail Police Department.
“For all intents and purposes, I know what happened on our end and what we will do to remedy it here,” Donahue said.That remedy involves personnel issues on which Donahue cannot comment.Donahue has already offered an apology to the Croppers and will meet with them again to discuss the outcome of the investigations.The chief also plans to set up a meeting with residents of the Ptarmigan neighborhood to address their concerns.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970)668-3998, ext. 229, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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