Aspen, Glenwood Springs and TASERs

While the ACLU is suing the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department for failing to address TASER abuse and other problems with abusive sheriff’s deputies in the county jail, Aspen’s police department has no tolerance for TASER abuse.

The chief of police fired officer Melinda Calvano on Thursday for using a TASER on an elderly woman on June 7 of this year, stating that:

Your judgment and conduct on that occasion leads me to conclude that you are not suited to be a police officer with the Aspen Police Department. … [Y]our decision to use a taser on an elderly woman who posed no immediate threat to you, herself, or any one else in the community, displays a complete lack of understanding of the values, philosophy, and mission statement of the Aspen Police Department.

The decision is particularly notable because the chief of the Aspen Police Department made the decision despite an evaluation of the Town of Vail police commander that the use was justified, and an inconclusive report from the Town of Frisco Police Chief.  Notably, the Aspen police chief did not seek counsel on the issue from the Garfield County Sheriff.

Comparable discipline principles would probably make it impossible for Denver to take similar action if an incident like the one in Aspen happened in Denver.

Hat Tip to Jeralyn Merritt at Elevated Voices.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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