VAIL, Colo. (KDVR) — A man running for the top law enforcement position in Eagle County was arrested after a debate for the gig Wednesday, on outstanding warrants for traffic violations in Eagle and Lake Counties.
Paul Agneberg, 37, is challenging incumbent Sheriff James Van Beek to lead the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Vail Daily was the first to report the arrest, following a candidate forum presented by the paper and broadcast by Eagle County.
Eagle County sheriff debate ends in arrest
In Agneberg’s opening statement, he billed himself as a candidate who would serve as a peace officer.
“People don’t trust law enforcement. I want to make Eagle County the safest county in Colorado so people aren’t scared of police and scared that police are going to rob them,” Agneberg told FOX31.
In his opening remarks, Sheriff Van Beek said, “Since I’ve taken office in 2014, there’s been a dramatic change inside the sheriff’s office. We’ve grown, and I’m proud of the record that we’ve set and I’m proud of the team that we have here at the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.”
Agneberg outlined more of his policing philosophy, criticizing the law enforcement system as a whole for prosecuting petty crimes.
“A crime actually requires a victim and a perpetrator,” Agneberg said. “The state is claiming to be injured by our actions, and it creates these victimless crimes in order to force its perception of morality and to generate revenue.”
However, the issue of Agneberg’s open warrant came in Van Beek’s closing arguments.
“I’m the only candidate that’s sitting here in front of you tonight that doesn’t have outstanding warrants for his arrest, and so I wanted you to know that as well,” Van Beek said. “But I am here to work with everybody, I’m here to grow, I’m here to learn, and I want your vote and I ask for your vote come Nov. 8.”
Agneberg asked for a rebuttal three times and threw an imaginary challenge flag to make a dispute, but the forum closed after Van Beek’s remarks.
Agneberg was arrested on outstanding traffic violations out of Lake County, including failure to provide proof of insurance, expired plates and driving without a license. His outstanding warrant in Eagle County was for driving without insurance and driving an unregistered vehicle.
What video shows of Agneberg’s arrest
His campaign sent a video of his arrest to FOX31, which shows Agneberg questioning the two deputies who were placing him under arrest. Agneberg asked to see the warrant and pointed out that it needs to have a judge’s signature.
“This is the violence I’m talking about. Intimidation,” Agneberg said in a video recorded by his friend, Sammy Katz, during his arrest.
Agneberg asked to see the warrant and pointed out, “It has to have a signature of a judge on it.” He said, “It’s not a legitimate warrant,” to deputies and was told, “You can take it up with the judge.”
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying in part that information about the active warrants was passed along to Agneberg before the candidate forum.
“As law enforcement, we are obligated to comply with all warrants issued but can use discretion in how it is handled. In this case, we determined that he wasn’t a threat to the community and the arrest could wait until after the candidate forum so that Agneberg could make his candidacy positions heard,” the statement said in part.
In a statement, Agneberg said he was unaware of the warrant until the day of the debate, when he had called the sheriff’s office “several” times “investigating the amount of income that they make on victimless crimes.”
“The final time I called, they transferred me to the undersheriff and the undersheriff said, ‘Hey, Paul, did you know you have two warrants out for your arrest?’ Says, ‘You’re likely to be arrested tonight if law enforcement is present,'” Agneberg said. “I thought it was kind of an intimidation tactic to throw me off my game, but it really shook me up.”
FOX31’s Gabby Easterwood contributed to this report.