Garfield County celebrates First Responders Day with Special Olympics
Occasionally, Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies may confront someone barricaded in a house, and the BearCat comes in handy.
“You roll [the BearCat] up to their front door, you call them up and say, ‘look out your window. You have two choices.’ Usually they make the right choice,” Garfield Sheriff Lou Vallario said.
Not many people know how frequently the BearCat is used in law enforcement operations, according to Vallario.
“We roll it out around something between 24 and 26 times a year,” Vallario said.
Anytime the All Hazards Response Team is called up, or deputies are called in for a drug enforcement task force operation, Garfield County brings out the BearCat.
“It truly is nothing more than additional protective gear for the guys on the All Hazards Response Team,” Vallario said.
On Saturday, the BearCat rolled out as part of the Garfield County First Responders Day in Silt.
Emergency response and law enforcement agencies from the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys came out to host a barbecue, concert featuring country musician Tyler Barnham, and the BearCat pull contest.
Teams of between five and 10 people lined up to try to drag the 18,000-pound armored car, in neutral gear, for 100 yards. All the proceeds from the entry fees will go to benefit the Colorado Special Olympics.
Garfield County combines National Law Enforcement Memorial Week with the support for Special Olympics athletes, who ran alongside first responders in a torch relay from Glenwood Springs to Silt Saturday.
Carrying the torch the final stretch, from Coal Ridge High School to Stoney Ridge Pavilion, was Special Olympics hall of famer and Glenwood Springs resident Chris Guay.
“I think it’s great that they’re out here supporting Special Olympics,” Guay said of the Sheriff’s Office.
“We are great supporters of the special Olympians. We love them,” Vallario said. “Those really guys put their heart into it.”
Though somewhat rainy in Silt for the event, Vallario said First Responder’s Day is an opportunity for law enforcement to give back to the community.
“Anytime we do an event, it’s about giving back to the community. We don’t want people to think we’re like the Robocop guy, with sunglasses behind tinted windows. We are part of the community,” Vallario said.
But the event is also about remembering law enforcement personnel who have been killed on the job.
“First and foremost, it’s about recognizing first responders and those that have fallen in the line of duty,” Vallario said. A memorial at the event honored three Colorado sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty in 2018: Heath Gumm of Adams County, Micah Flick of El Paso County, and Matthew Moreno of Las Animas County.
“We would like to thank the first responders for getting up every day, putting your life on the line to serve and protect our community,” said Jay Rickstrew, regional president for Alpine Bank, a sponsor of the event.
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Marti Barbour was selected almost 20 years ago as the first recipient of a Habitat For Humanity house in the Roaring Fork Valley. She paid off her mortgage in June and recalled the dire times her family faced and the help that Habitat provided.