I’d like to tell you who James van Beek is; I am a native of Colorado, and the son of immigrant parents. I have been coming to Eagle County since 1971 and have made Eagle County my home for the past 25 years. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife Carrie for 22 years now, and we have two wonderful sons, Louis and William, who we have raised here in the valley.
After serving 4 years in the United States Army I was honorably discharged and returned to Colorado. In August 1989 I started my career in Law Enforcement with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
During my time at the Sheriff’s Office I worked as a Patrol Deputy, Field Training Officer, and Detective.
In 1999 I left the Sheriff’s Office on a full time basis (but continued to volunteer there) and went to work for Vail Resorts as the Security Supervisor on Vail Mountain.
In October 2000 I began my first tour as a Civilian Police Officer serving in the United Nations Mission in Kosovo with full executive authority. Our mission at that time involved professional police officers from all over the world, tasked with building and developing a full time working police service consisting of local nationals.
During this period I served as a training coordinator, overseeing the planning, coordination, and implementation of curriculum and training for over 150 local police officers. I later became the senior shift supervisor which consisted of managing and overseeing all patrol operations of the local and international police.
In March of 2002 I finished my tour in Kosovo and returned to work full time at Eagle County Sheriff’s Office with the understanding that I intended to return to the Balkans once more to help finish what I started. During this period I worked as a Patrol Deputy and Field Training Officer.
In October 2003 I returned to Kosovo for a two year tour where I was immediately placed as the Chief of Operations and then promoted to Station Commander until my return home to Eagle County in October 2005.
In April 2006 I accepted a mission to help establish a democratic police force in another war torn country and went to Afghanistan and worked alongside police officers from all around the U.S. throughout Afghanistan
While my path in my law enforcement career was not the one I had envisioned when I was first hired on; and it certainly has not been the one that your average law enforcement professional may take, I truly feel that my experiences abroad have given me many clear and definitive skills that would make me an excellent Sheriff.
Much of my job overseas drove home some perspectives that we can so often lose here at home. Working in overseas missions put me in contact and working side by side with police professionals, military members, and diplomats from all over the world. It taught me clearly the need to be able to work together, putting aside personal and cultural differences and to understand how issues cannot always be solved by a single entity or group but most often by a unified approach. It taught me tolerance when needed, and it taught me when to be strict and when to allow a little tolerance.
My time with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office taught me to be resourceful and to think independently and once I was overseas I had to learn to not be afraid to try and allow new approaches. I had learned to listen to the people we were there to serve and assist in building up their own forces. To not only teach them, but to learn from them as well because the only way to clearly communicate, even if we spoke the same language, was to understand their history, their culture, and their beliefs.
Throughout my missions I was a member of various teams responsible for cross-border talks in an effort to build better understanding and relationships, or acting as a liaison between NATO Military Commanders and local and national officials in the countries I have worked in.
During my service overseas I remained in constant contact with family and friends and traveled home about once every 3 – 4 months for 1 month breaks. During my visits home I had time to re-invigorate communications and ties within our community and see with fresh eyes what was going on and hearing both the good and the bad. While home I would volunteer my time at the Sheriff’s Office and worked multiple shifts patrolling our county and keeping in touch.
Why, I want to be your Sheriff: in 2010 I was encouraged by numerous citizens to run for Sheriff because those who asked me believed the office needed someone that can achieve higher levels of communication, cooperation, leadership, service to the community. At the time I announced my intent to seek the office, I was still serving in Afghanistan as a Police Mentor Supervisor under a U.S. State Dept. contract, and returned to personally campaign with only 6 weeks to go to the election. While I was not elected, there was only 82 votes separating us at the final tally. It is now 2014 and the perception of the current sheriff has changed little. Someone once observed that in a democratic society the police are only as effective as the people allow them to be. To be effective in a society such as ours there needs to be clear and open communication and trust; not only within the office between the leaders and the front line, but between the established government entities and the citizens we are in place to serve.
I’m a man of my word, l will honor all my commitments openly and transparently, not only with the citizens, but with all entities with whom the sheriff must work alongside serving and protecting OUR community. I will hold the deputies to the same standards as myself, encouraging and empowering them to be able to serve the diverse needs and requirements that a position such as theirs holds.
I believe that local law enforcement reflects and projects the first impressions of our community, its attitude and accomplishments in protecting our way of life.
Being involved and working to help others is my real passion.
My experience has given me the perspective that it is not about me, it is about the people, communities and the Constitution.
The people of Eagle County will have a choice to make soon and I believe the people who live and work in Eagle County want a Sheriff’s Office that is open, accountable and responsive to the wants, needs and is continuously problem solving within the county - a Sheriff’s Office that is willing to work with the people in preventing and aggressively reducing local crime - a Sheriff and deputies that will work for the citizens, youth, and seniors in building relationships and delivering value in services.
As your Sheriff the community’s safety and well being will be based on awareness, involvement, listening, integrity, and compassion within the principles of our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and individual freedom.
My commitment and pledge to the people of Eagle County: Is to serve the citizens of Eagle County and all its diversity; openly, honestly, fairly and impartial. I will remain open and accountable to the community, to uphold the ethical standards expected of law enforcement professionals and the Constitution personally, and I will accept no less from my staff in their performance!
Cooperation: While the Sheriff is elected by the community, the office cannot expect to function and move forward without close cooperation and support of the community they are there to serve, and federal, state, county and municipal services. One of my goals would be to establish better rapport with all the citizens of Eagle County, greater communication and working relationships with emergency services organizations, and town and county governments in order to create a greater understanding of each group’s roles and the resources that will enhance our overall ability to provide services, both preventively and operationally throughout Eagle County.
The Sheriff’s Office needs to be connected to and represent all our citizens:
To accomplish this I will:
Appoint a visionary council made up of a cross section of law enforcement, emergency services’ organizations, youth and other community members to help guide and facilitate relationships between the Sheriff’s Office and the community we serve. The representatives will discuss and advise the Sheriff and his representatives on a regular basis to the underlying problems and issues they see, hear about or perceive and how those issues can best be resolved with mutual understanding and cooperation.
Assign Deputies to be the liaison to neighborhoods to facilitate and to coordinate more effective problem solving and policing in each of these areas. They will be empowered to embrace the core community-policing components of partnerships with the community, engagement with the community, and problem solving.
To improve and enhance the skills of the Sheriff’s staff with a focus on balancing the quality and quantity of staff, assuring all members receive enhanced and advanced training and skills along with fair compensation for their work, allowing them to be more effective in the performance of their jobs with greater personal satisfaction, helping retain more experienced members and fostering an environment where they will wish to remain as family members and citizens of our community. Facilitate a S.A.L.T (seniors and law enforcement together) volunteer program where the skills and experience of our senior community can be used as a mutual benefit to the volunteer and the office. Develop our youth and give them direction by establishing a explorer/cadet program where they can investigate the potential of going into law enforcement or other emergency services as a career. I am an advocate of alternative justice programs for youth involved as first time non-violent offenses and will work closely with District Attorney, and our local judges to bring this to fruition.
I will be accessible and listen to all citizens and staff.
Provide Responsible Fiscal Management and Spending:
Spending will be strategically based in support of community safety within the guidelines of the Constitution, which is the core of any law enforcement agency. I will initiate a detailed review and analysis of recent costs and expenditures, seeking to realign duties and responsibilities in identifying other potential cost saving measures and efforts.
I sincerely hope that the people of Eagle County will see me as the conduit to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office future, as it continues to grow and prosper alongside our unique community. Being your Sheriff is all about: Using common sense, integrity, vision, values and goals, achievement and encouragement, accountability and approachability – the Sheriff is the one that sets the tone, the standards, community perception, attitude, performance of the organization and the protection of your rights and that’s why I am asking for your vote, because I will not just pay you lip service during an election year but work tirelessly for you each and every day!
Please think about this when you prepare to cast your vote.