Magnuson disciplined in the past
Sheriff’s candidate Rick Magnuson was reprimanded by the Aspen Police Department for two art projects he did in 2002, then suspended and placed on probation in a separate incident a month later. Magnuson was put on probation after he ran a driver’s license check for a girl he was dating, saw a warrant for her arrest and provided her with a copy of the police record. When she was arrested five days later, the printout was found during a search of her apartment.”I’m human and I make mistakes,” said Magnuson, a Community Safety Officer. “These are mistakes I accept and have learned from.”Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis said he had heard rumors about disciplinary actions against Magnuson but had no comment.Magnuson misled the Aspen Times about his past, saying that he had never been placed on probation by the Aspen Police Department, when asked following the controversy surrounding his desert video, “Hole.””I guess I’m changing (that answer) to yes,” responded Magnuson, when asked about his previous denial. In late 2002, Assistant Chief Glenn Schaffer reprimanded Magnuson after receiving calls from the Vail Police Department and a New Jersey Counter Terrorism Unit about two separate art projects. Magnuson was told he might get in more trouble if he continued, and that “…His action(s) are starting to bring the department into public discredit …”On Oct. 2, Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson received a complaint from the Vail Police Chief about Magnuson driving a rented truck repeatedly through the roundabout and “refusing an officer’s request that he quit,” according to the Police file. “It’s not against the law,” said Magnuson, defending the art project. “That was overbearing government. I didn’t do anything wrong.”In the second art project, the Aspen Police received a call from the Counter Terrorism Unit of Union County, N.J. on Dec. 3, 2002. According to police records, the Counter Terrorism Unit spent significant time, effort and money on investigation and lab work regarding a letter they received addressed to Osama Bin Laden. Magnuson said he sent out 60 letters, half to Osama Bin Laden and half to the president, all with fictitious addresses. Inside, were newspaper clippings about terrorism.”It was about how the government distracts with fear,” said Magnuson. “Art should question our culture.”In the incident involving his girlfriend’s warrant, Magnuson was suspended without pay for one day and placed on a 6-month probation for the first half of 2003. The department cited the fact that Magnuson violated policy about dissemination of criminal history and may have been an accessory to crime – a possible felony. “I don’t think for a minute he was trying to thwart justice,” Ryerson said when asked why Magnuson was not charged with a crime.Ryerson said the police department regularly calls people who have warrants and asks them to come in and take care of it. So while Ryerson said it was clear Magnuson wasn’t giving the warrant to her so she could leave the country or get away from the law, it was still a clear violation of policy.”He should have known he couldn’t give her that slip of paper,” Ryerson said. “The printouts provided to this person by Rick clearly state that she is a ‘Wanted Person’,” said the written probation notice in Magnuson’s personnel file. The two documents relating to Magnuson’s misconduct in the past were provided to The Aspen Times by Magnuson himself, after he discovered the Aspen Daily News had acquired them through a Colorado Open Records request. Magnuson said he was not talking to the Aspen Daily News until after the election because he feels they are biased. He brought the records to The Aspen Times hoping for a more balanced story. Ryerson stood up for Magnuson in the past when he told the Aspen Daily News, “I’m not an art critic. But what he has done has never affected his performance or his duties.”On Tuesday, Ryerson stood behind his comments about Magnuson’s work as a community safety officer. “Rick has had very good evaluations and has been a very good employee except for these two issues,” Ryerson said. “We employ humans and humans are fallible.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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