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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sheriff Alderden replies to Slidell affair

The following comment is excerpted from the Larimer County Sheriff’s “The Bull’s Eye.”

The Online Recorder saw the original article in a Loveland based blog site and noted that the editor admitted to not having checked with the Sheriff’s department as any self respecting journalist would have done. The Recorder did check out the story and left comments on the blog site that this story was not true. They were hailing Mr. Slidell as a hero for trying to rescue his wife when in fact he was endangering firefighters and other residents. His big problem had been that he had been cited by the officer and of course his one-sided story seemed to illustrate his “innocence.”

Blog sites such as the one that originated this story do a disservice to the community by not following journalistic ethics.

This response by Sheriff Alderden should put aside any doubts that the Sheriff’s deputies were performing their duties as they should:  Editor

I could write about the misrepresentation of a “traffic quota” and how all budgets are built as a financial plan, but I know by now that people are going to believe what they want to believe and embrace anything with a negative connotation regardless of the facts.

Instead, I want to address a disservice done to one of our volunteers – a Reserve Deputy Sheriff who donated his time to assist his community during the Reservoir Road Fire. The Reserve Deputy has been vilified in blog sites across the country for pursuing Mr. James Slidell after he ran a roadblock because the nasty mean deputies wouldn’t help save his seriously ill wife who was in a life threatening situation, trapped by the fire. He got his story to the media. It made good headlines, but it is BULL.

The fact is that all claims to the contrary, Mr. Slidell NEVER talked to any member of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office alerting us to his situation. He NEVER spoke to any of the three deputies manning the road-block on CR 18E west of CR 31. He NEVER called 9-1-1 to report his wife being ill. He NEVER called for an ambulance. There were three marked patrol cars parked in the westbound lanes blocking traffic and cones set up in the eastbound lanes. Without stopping or talking to anyone, Mr. Slidell ran the roadblock at 40-50 mph, endangering the deputies who were in the roadway.

I guess they weren’t supposed to question that, but the deputies did and the Reserve Deputy was tasked with pursuing this scofflaw. With lights and siren, the fleeing vehicle was chased for many miles at 50-55 mph in a 25 mph zone on a winding mountain highway, endangering fire fighters as well evacuating residents. Three times the pursuing Reserve Deputy tried to pull next to this individual and three times Slidell swerved at the marked patrol car, further endangering the Reserve Deputy who easily could have crashed.

When the vehicle finally did stop, still not knowing what had caused the driver to act so recklessly, the Reserve Deputy drew his weapon and ordered the subject who had gotten out of his vehicle to stop. He did not give the command, “stop or I’ll shoot” as alleged. That tired line hasn’t been used in thirty years with the possible exception of some low-budget movies. Mr. Slidell complied and was handcuffed while the Reserve Deputy sorted out what was going on. You see, he had been unable to divine Mr. Slidell’s intent regarding an ill spouse.

Several other deputies and park rangers had also arrived on scene. Mr. Slidell reports there were a total of five. Nobody from the media questioned why there would be five sworn personnel in such a remote area that typically wouldn’t see five deputies in a year. IT WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE UP THERE HELPING EVACUATE PEOPLE IN MRS. SLIDELL’S SITUATION. Had Mr. Slidell stopped at the roadblock and explained the situation to the deputies, they would have arranged to have her transported down the mountain as was done with dozens of other residents. In fact, we were also working with the Humane Society to rescue dogs and I personally helped feed and move livestock. Mrs. Slidell would have received help more expeditiously if Mr. Slidell would have stopped at the roadblock.

There is a joker in the deck though. While deputies would have arranged to transport Mrs. Slidell, which they did after being informed of the situation, they wouldn’t have allowed Mr. Slidell to drive to the scene to retrieve his motor home. Upon being contacted by the Reserve Deputy, Slidell explained that his wife was ill but was equally concerned about his RV. Mrs. Slidell was transported by a parks officer to a waiting ambulance and then to a hospital. Mr. Slidell was allowed to disconnect his RV and drive it down. While his wife was en-route to the hospital, he parked for fifteen to twenty minutes to watch the fire.

While still at the scene, Mr. Slidell apologized to the deputies for his disregarding the roadblock and said he knew he was wrong. I think deputies showed admirable restraint in only issuing him a ticket for a minor traffic violation instead of arresting and jailing him for reckless driving and eluding.

The kicker to this story is that when he filed his complaint against the deputies he justified his reckless flight saying he thought the deputy chasing him with lights and siren was giving him an escort. A rear escort? BULL.

Instead of calling for the Reserve Deputy to be fired, the misinformed bloggers who seem to live in an alternate universe should be thankful there are volunteers in the real world who are willing to contribute to the safety of our community. The dozens of Reserves, Posse, fire-fighters and other volunteers who assisted in Reservoir Road Fire have my gratitude.

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