Opinion: Transparency

Crested Butte News: As a newspaper guy I appreciate transparency. It seems to go in waves, and this week I feel like there was a big brown clog in the transparency pipeline. Whether it was law enforcement being tight-lipped about the shooting that took place Thanksgiving afternoon on Highway 135, the details of the Red Lady avalanche or the friction boiling over between board members (and staff) of the Met Rec District, getting answers from some people was like pulling teeth this week.

Two quick examples: The Red Lady avalanche was triggered by what has been described as a group of experienced locals. It was conveyed to me they were sort of embarrassed to have done it and I get that. In my world I would have loved for them to share their mistake and educate less experienced backcountry users (me) about what to do and what not to do. They have chosen to remain (somewhat) anonymous. Suffice to say they made a bad decision that could have been tragic for them and others in our community but they lucked out. I sometimes backcountry ski and don’t know a lot but I do know the obvious times not to do it. Their timing was awful, coming after a windy storm that dropped significant sweet pow on the backcountry billboard that is Red Lady. Let’s all be safe and smart this winter.

The most serious transparency plug is over the shooting by a law enforcement officer that took the life of a man on Highway 135 last Thanksgiving Day. Now, most people, including myself, understand the sensitive nature of an investigation into why a cop would shoot and kill a person. And I think the community has given the investigators some space to work. But it took many days to just release the name of the deceased and the Colorado State Patrol officer who did the shooting. Not much more definitive detail has been forthcoming. And when that happens, the general public begins to wonder why and the rumor mill ramps up. There is nothing good about either of those. So it is beyond disappointing that the investigators cannot release basic situational details of the incident.

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