Hayden Police Officer Ed Corriveau works in his office Wednesday. Hayden residents met with officers Tuesday night to air grievances about local police.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden Police Officer Ed Corriveau works in his office Wednesday. Hayden residents met with officers Tuesday night to air grievances about local police.

Police, public air issues

Hayden residents say law enforcement too heavy-handed


— The Hayden residents who showed up at Town Hall on Tuesday night didn't seem too eager to mingle with the police.

Before the meeting between law enforcement and the public, the two groups kept mostly to opposite sides of the room. The Hayden residents aimed to air their issues with the Police Department, and the town and the police aimed to explain their point of view.

Although the rules set by town officials banned discussion of specific cases, residents' complaints seemed to center on the treatment of two men who pleaded guilty to setting off about a dozen homemade acid bombs around town in August.

After thanking Police Chief Ray Birch and the force, former Town Board Member Tim Frentress said, "I do feel that there have been instances when the Police Department has gotten carried away in charging young people with felonies."

Isaac Haskins and Dusty Zabel pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. Haskins also pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive or incendiary device, a felony. That felony charge could be dismissed if he successfully completes probation. Zabel's misdemeanor charge also could be dismissed.

The town invited Routt County Deputy District Attorney Ed Veronda to the meeting. Veronda explained that the district attorney's office, not police, typically decides what charges to bring in a case.

Birch didn't say a great deal, emphasizing that his officers worked hard and tried to make the right choices on the job. The chief, a former Marine and Los Angeles homicide detective, bore much of the criticism. Some residents were unhappy with his demeanor, which they said could seem unfriendly.

One of Birch's officers, Sgt. Gordon Booco, defended the chief's leadership.

"I love this town. I'm proud of this town," said Booco, who said he has lived in Hayden all his life. "But let's face it, guys, Hayden has changed so rapidly that we at the Police Department are having a hard time keeping up with it. : (Birch and Town Manager Russ Martin) are the kind of people who can bring us into the modern world."

But some residents said they weren't ready to relinquish that small-town feel.

"I understand that we have more crime," said resident Alice Carroll, who owns a beauty shop. "But there's still an element of hometownishness that people want."

Town officials set up the meeting as a workshop, placing chairs around tables in the center of the room. As participants raised issues, Martin wrote them on a white board on the wall.

Carroll suggested adding a police commissioner to serve as a liaison between the public and police. Officials said the Town Board should serve that purpose.

Martin said the town has a complaint process for residents, and Birch said the Police Department also has a system for complaints.

"I'd be glad to show and break down that policy to anyone who wants to come in and hear it," Birch said.

Martin said he would collaborate with the next board, which will start work in April, to address the complaint and response process. He urged the community to stay involved.

Martin also said he has gotten positive feedback about Hayden police.

"We have constant conversation about how to do the right thing," Martin said.


Benny 9 years ago

I just got to say that Hayden's town manager is AWESOME. Great guy, in for the long haul, has the best interests of the town at heart, all of that. Just a truly, really great guy.

I think that Birch is just soooo drastically different than Jody Lenahan and it's an adjustment for Hayden. With any new leadership, there is an adjustment, but for the most part I think Birch is a good guy and has rounded up that police force and created a team and some comradery. If any of you have seen the guy, he does come off as kinda "unfriendly", he kinda seems intimidating and quiet and it's hard to get a feel for him. However, he's really not that way at all. Once you get to know him, he's just a big ole nice guy.


CoJustice 9 years ago

Oak Creek and Hayden residents have a problem with police enforcing the law:.Yikes.. I wonder who set that standard::.organize a town meeting::..the police are enforcing public safety laws:.we don't like it. The police have the best interest of innocent citizens::we don't like it. Ever wonder where that comes from?


Queenie 9 years ago

I appreciate the "change" in leadership and leadership style. I believe Ray brings a seriousness to the police department that was lacking for soooo many years. The department is no longer a joke and people are held accountable for their actions. Hayden and the rest of the world need more of this. I also think this is what upsets many long-time residents of Hayden. They have been so used to "policing" themselves that now that we have someone in a leadership position who does not buy in to the "good ol boy" system, they are upset.

Ray is a REAL police chief doing his job very well. Ray is also a very nice guy IF you ever actually talk to him BEFORE you judge him. He is an honest man dedicated to his country and his community.


ptrpaul1 9 years ago

The entire Hayden Police Dept. has come a long way. Ray bears a great deal of that responsibility but the officers that work hard every day are truly dedicated to their jobs and their community. I for one am proud of the changes. I wish OC could follow suit. The biggest difference is that the Hayden officers live in the town they serve, the OC officers do not. Try sitting at a restaurant with your family right next to the person that you arrested the night before. If you treated them with respect and dignity, there would be no issue, if you treated them poorly, that makes for a very uncomfortable dinner.


oldskoolstmbt 9 years ago

good job hayden for supporting new positive change in ur community!!!hopefully the oc can see what happens when law enforcement is allowed to do their job !


Jessica Horne 9 years ago

Everyone in Hayden gives the police way too much gruff. If the events with the 2 boys happened anywhere other than Hayden they would have gotton the book thrown at them. It appears to me that they got off pretty light. The cops were always fair when I lived there but it's true the town is growing. And it's time that the "Old Timers" realize the town shouldn't be run as a buddy system anymore.


Malcolm_Reynolds 9 years ago

There was a time when the citizens complained that the Hayden Police Department did nothing and now the same citizens complained about a police department that is doing their jobs. You are a bunch of hypocrites.


Joyce Cusick 9 years ago

We must all learn to take responsibility for our actions. The best place to start is with our children. As a teenager, I spent a night in jail. It was probably the best (and hardest) lesson that I had growing up. Never again!! We all know when we are doing something wrong or illegal. If you are caught, accept it, LEARN and move on! We will always need the police. If our children learn from a young age right from wrong AND that they will be responsible for their actions, then maybe the next generation will be better!!!


jmemcse 9 years ago

If Ray and his cops were doing a super job, you'd never hear a single word from anybody.

If Ray and his cops were doing a marginal job, you'd hear noisy complaints from everybody.

If you go to a new restaurant and the food and service are excellent, you don't go home and phone all your friends and tell them how great it was.

If you go to a new restaurant and the food and service are just OK, you go home and phone all your friends telling them how terrible it was.

Never judge a cop until you have rode a mile in his patrol car.

Ok - I'm ready to be flamed for my opinion now, bring it on.


brokebackcop 9 years ago

It is obvious there is a parenting problem in Hayden! If they (The Adults) spent half as much time as they are complaining on supervising the children they (The Children) would not be branding each other at unsupervised parties and the manufacture of explosives by the youth of the community would not have happened. Just be glad your Police Chief is named Ray and not Dwight.


80488mom 9 years ago

We were brought up to respect law enforcement. The police were the "good guys". What message are these parents sending their kids? Do they realize their attitudes will be mirrored by their children?


popcan 9 years ago

It is very obvious that Hayden does not have a parenting problem. Problems that evolve with raising children has many factors. First Economics! Parents have to work many hours to put a roof over their children's head, and take care of them. It's expensive out there. Second ... Society today doesn't allow parents to discipline their children. The so-called spanking will land you in jail with child abuse charges. Third, the public school system oks drugs, rough-housing, bullying, gangs, poor-dress. Teachers have no control. A general education means little. Hayden Police Department does all it can, but really has to be careful when dealing with juveniles. They too can be charged with child abuse with little action on their part. Some children by the luck of the draw do well to go in positive directions; but the ones that are influenced by bad behavior, parents are screwed! To close ... Not a parenting issue, but a huge society issue


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