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January 2013 report to the county commissioners


The sheriff and undersheriff

The sheriff and undersheriff were co-hosts of a fundraiser held at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort to benefit the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.  Guest speakers were Buena Vista PD Sergeant Dean Morgan who related his experience in the Platte Canyon High School shootings; and a CCSO sergeant who spoke on the emotional impact that such incidents have on first responders.  Both presentations were extraordinary in their effectiveness and the sheriff and undersheriff extend to both officers our heartfelt appreciation for their preparation and delivery.

The sheriff attended the winter conference of the County Sheriffs of Colorado held in Larimer County.

The undersheriff attended the Salida Elks Club Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner along with Deputy Andy Rohrich, Cmdr. Rick Holland, Annette Stolba, and Sherry Carricato.

Our patrol commander, Joe McGuire, retired from his position and from forty-three years of law enforcement service.  He will continue as a part-time deputy.  A celebration of his career was held on January 17 at the Country Bounty Restaurant.

The sheriff submitted an opinion piece to the Mountain Mail on the debate over proposed national and state firearms policy changes and our work in Chaffee County to prevent and respond to mass shooting threats.  The piece was published in the Mountain Mail and Chaffee County Times editions of January 31 and is posted on our website, www.chaffeesheriff.org.  


Deputies were sent to an address in Johnson Village after a call was received from the father of a 29-year-old man who reported that the younger man had threatened to kill him following an argument.  According to the caller, the younger man had been acting irrationally lately, possibly due to his overuse of potent prescription medications.  He reportedly had several firearms available to him and had threatened to kill his father and then himself.  The father then fled the residence.  Seven members of the Chaffee County tactical team responded to the area.  Under the direction of Undersheriff John Spezze, a perimeter was established around the man’s house and a Code Red notification was made to residents of the area alerting them to the situation.  Undersheriff Spezze contacted the individual via cellphone, informed him of the presence of deputies, and asked him to surrender.  After some further conversation, the man came out of the house and was taken into custody.  A search warrant was executed on the house and several firearms were seized as evidence or for safekeeping.  The press release is posted on our website.

A search warrant was served on a Salida pawnbroker after suspected stolen items were discovered in his shop.  The search resulted in his arrest on 455 misdemeanor counts of violation of required acts of pawnbroker.  The press release can be found on our website.

All annual personnel evaluations have been completed and delivered to our employees.

  Complaints / commendations

An opinion piece in the Mountain Mail cited the Johnson Village incident noted above and posted “a thank you for a job well done” to the deputies involved

An allegation of improper conduct with an inmate was sustained against a detentions deputy after an internal personnel investigation.  The employee resigned.

Also in the jail, a diabetic inmate who unsuspectingly used a needle and syringe to inject himself with insulin discovered that the instruments had been used previously and not disposed of properly.  An internal review concluded that it was the inmate himself who had used the syringe previously, but our staff failed to dispose of it properly afterwards.  In future, all new syringes will be heat sealed to assure only new ones are used.  The inmate was given a blood test to determine conclusively that he had not contracted any disease as a result of the oversight.

The sheriff received a call from a local man who complained that a deputy ran a criminal history on the man on behalf of the deputy’s brother-in-law to use against him in a child custody dispute.  A check with CBI confirmed that no such request had been made by anyone at this agency.  The man’s criminal record could easily have been obtained by anyone, including the man’s estranged wife, through an Internet search.

Through oversight, a dispatcher failed to promptly dispatch a nonemergency call that resulted in an unnecessary delay in service.  Appropriate corrective action has been taken.

Several items of jewelry recovered from a burglary and kept in our evidence room were inadvertently destroyed by our deputies acting in their role as property custodians.  An internal review concluded that the action was inadvertent but avoidable, and corrective measures have been taken.  The sheriff and undersheriff met personally with the property’s owners, apologized for the incident, and presented the owner a check to reimburse them for the loss. 

Victims Assistance Unit

The victims assistance coordinator will be notified routinely when any case involving death or serious injury is received.  It will be her discretion as to whether a response or other actions are necessary or appropriate.

At the request of BVCF, the victims assistance coordinator will provide that agency advice and information on appropriate cases encountered within that institution.

Communications Center

The undersheriff and communications manager met with Chaffee Search and Rescue representatives to work on solving SAR’s radio problems.  Their two base stations were not able to be narrow-banded and were removed January 1.  The decision was made to purchase two new repeaters, with the cost shared by the sheriff’s office and each SAR group (north and south).  The repeaters have been ordered.

The NetClock approved by the 911 Authority Board has been ordered.  

  Training received

The communications manager and a supervisor attended training to become notaries.  Two others are already trained and certified. 

The communications manager and a supervisor attended “Communicating with Purpose” training in Centennial

Search and Rescue

Four young adults and their two dogs were rescued after spending the night inside the chalet on Mount Princeton.  They had intended to hike down the following morning but discovered the trail was partially blocked by a minor snow slide.  They returned to the chalet and called 911 for assistance.  Sixteen search and rescue volunteers participated in the operation that required snowmobiles and a snow cat.  All four persons and the dogs were returned safely to the trailhead after an operation that lasted five and a half hours.  The press release is posted on our website.