Accused vandal’s long record points to town’s struggle |

Accused vandal’s long record points to town’s struggle

Flower pots along the 700 block of Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs were found overturned and damaged July 19.
Mitch Levy / Riviera Supper Club |

The man accused of smashing flower pots around downtown Glenwood Springs on July 19 had his first run-in with Glenwood Springs police in the autumn of 1992. Bobby Joe Honeycutt recalls smoking a joint and taking his mother’s car toward town when he passed a patrol car and turned up Transfer Trail with an officer in pursuit.

The officer, now-Police Chief Terry Wilson, recalls a hair-raising high-speed pursuit up narrow switchbacks in the wee hours of the morning, calling for backup from fresh recruit Lou Vallario, who’s now the sherff. Halfway up, the car chase turned into a foot chase, with Wilson and Honeycutt grappling on the edge of a drop and rolling down the hill together.

Honeycutt ended up in jail, the first in a string of about 30 arrests which stretch to the present day.

It sounds like a flashback from an old film noir, but real life rarely comes in black and white.

To Wilson, it’s the opening scene in the story of a man whose dependence on alcohol and marijuana brings him in conflict with society over and over.

With Glenwood Springs as the setting, its a familiar story line, not just with Honeycutt.

Glenwood hosts a handful of residents who spend a lot of time behind bars for one thing or another without ever doing something to get them put away for significant periods of time. They soak up a lot of police time and, at times, tarnish the town’s economically important family-friendly ambiance.

“It’s a real quandary,” Wilson said. “We’re bucking upstream against the philosophy that minor crimes don’t merit incarceration. I’m not sure I disagree, but how much do we have to tolerate the nuisance and disruption these people bring to us on a darn-near daily basis before it’s just too much?”

Glenwood Springs, the chief said, can be something of an oasis for people who are homeless or otherwise spend a lot of time on the streets. The town, easily accessible from Interstate 70, has meals and other help for the down and out, marijuana shops that Vail and Grand Junction lack, and a healthy tourist and dining scene that creates a target for panhandling.

Wilson said mental health issues, substance abuse or both are almost always the root cause for people becoming persistent troublemakers. Some of them, like Honeycutt, spend large stretches of time on the street. Occasionally, a teenager goes on a tear of minor crimes out of youthful rebellion, but it doesn’t usually last.

“Typically you see them grow out of that,” Wilson said. “Bobby’s 51. He ain’t growing out of anything. For a long time, we didn’t hear anything from him. From what I understand, he held a few jobs and stayed under the radar. Now all of the sudden we’ve arrested him a couple dozen times in the last few years.”

That includes two arrests in the two weeks since the flower pot incident, both for public consumption of marijuana.

“He knows he has issues with substance abuse,” Wilson said of Honeycutt, “and yet he chooses to participate in those things that help him behave in such an inappropriate manner. He bonds out; he’s not going to get much in the way of time. We know with certainty that he’s going to disrupt the community and commit other crimes.”

To Honeycutt, it’s about how bad decisions lead to a cycle of just and unjust arrests.

“I don’t know how to get any help,” he said. “I’ve been locked up a lot. A lot of it I didn’t do, but because I have a reputation, they put me in jail anyway.”

While Honeycutt readily acknowledges that alcohol and marijuana have played a role in each of his arrests, he’s not ready to give them up.

“I’ve given it thought, but I haven’t tried it yet,” he said.

His stints behind bars don’t cut off the supply.

“Any drug that’s out here is in there (jail) if you have enough money,” he said.

The worst part of his time behind bars was how hard it was on his late mother.

“It didn’t hurt just me, it hurt my family,” he said.

Ironically, Honeycutt has managed to help others while struggling himself.

Jacqueline Mauer met Honeycutt in community corrections and credits him with getting some of his fellow inmates through with some help from treatment and group counseling.

“They want to give you every opportunity to stay out and change your life,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of people go back to prison, and also a lot who turn their lives around. It depends on where your head’s at … how far you’re willing to go to make those changes.”

She’s confident Honeycutt could be one of those success stories.

“Him being a sober, awesome person, he’s great,” she said. “Add drugs and alcohol, anything can happen.”

For now, at least, the story doesn’t get neatly wrapped up with an act of redemption and a smiling handshake. It ends with an apology.

After the mess downtown got cleaned up, Honeycutt made several stops at businesses to express his regret, including at the Post Independent office.

“I am sorry, Glenwood,” Honeycutt said. “The other night I did a terrible thing … I destroyed the flower pots and flowers, because I was mad at a person — I don’t know who it is — who stole my backpack … I drank a little bit too much, and someone told me one of my backpacks was in a flower pot. So I started tearing them up, and I ended up in jail.”

That’s not an excuse, he admitted, just an explanation.

“I have God in my life,” he added later. “If I didn’t, I would be dead by now. I know he has a plan for me. I don’t know what it is, but it sure isn’t for me to be known as a bad guy.”

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