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april 2013 report to the county commissioners


The sheriff and undersheriff

On Saturday, April 13, the sheriff attended a community event hosted by US Senator Mark Udall in Nathrop concerning the proposed National Monument designation of Browns Canyon.  The sheriff later attended a “town hall meeting” hosted by Colorado Senator Gail Schwartz in Buena Vista.  That evening, the sheriff and undersheriff attended the annual Friends of NRA banquet and auction at the county fairgrounds.

On Saturday, April 20, the sheriff was a door greeter for the Salida Sunrise Rotary Club’s first annual Salida Home and Garden Show.  The next day the sheriff attended the annual awards banquet for the Chaffee County Fire Protection District held at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.

Undersheriff John Spezze was a participant in a basketball fundraiser for Chaffee County CrimeStoppers.  Guest players were the Harlem Ambassadors.  Event was at the fairgrounds.  The undersheriff was wildly cheered for his exquisite athletic ability.

We learned within the past couple days that Jim Wingert, chief of the Chaffee County Fire Protection District, has resigned his position.  We regret his departure, as Chief Wingert has been an effective leader and a valued colleague in the public safety field.  We wish him all the best.


Chaffee County Build A Generation, with support and cooperation of the sheriff’s office and the Buena Vista and Salida police departments, conducted Chaffee County’s third Prescription Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 27th.  The event is organized to collect outdated, unused, and excess pharmaceutical drugs from the community.  Collection points were in Salida and Buena Vista and were staffed by police officers and volunteers, including pharmacy students, local pharmacists, and public health nurses to offer medication counseling and educational resources.  During the four hours the event was in operation, a total of 167 pounds of prescription drugs was collected for destruction.

Our new, completely revised policy and procedure manual was distributed to all personnel.  This project was primarily the work of our former patrol commander who devoted scores of hours to its completion.  It is a necessary step toward our effort to become an accredited agency through County Sheriffs of Colorado and Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

  Training Attended

Three patrol sergeants attended a one-day training session on supervision held at the SteamPlant.

The patrol commander attended the two-week Command Staff Institute at the County Sheriffs of Colorado facility near Englewood.  On the final day of the course, Undersheriff John Spezze participated in a discussion panel with other law enforcement executives.


  Complaints / commendations

The sheriff received notice from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a charge of employment discrimination had been filed with that agency by a current employee of the sheriff’s office.  The sheriff referred the notice to the county attorney for response.

Victims Advocate

Communications Center


  Training received

All dispatchers completed “size-up training.”  These sessions are designed to allow deputies and employees to quickly recognize and evaluate critical incidents, e.g., a hazardous materials spill on the highway, in order to respond safely and effectively.

Search and Rescue

Chaffee County Search and Rescue North volunteers rescued a 54-year-old male Pueblo resident near Ptarmigan Lake after he injured his leg.  The man had rented a snowmobile and told his friends to call for help if he did not return by 3 p.m.  At about 7pm, when the man had failed to return as scheduled, his friends notified the sheriff’s office which in turn alerted the search and rescue team.  Rescuers located the man inside a warming shack on the mountain; he had suffered a possible broken leg.  He was transported off the mountain at about 10:30pm and taken to Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center.

Records and Administration

Detention Facility

We do not have a workable policy manual for the jail.  We had anticipated that a private company that develops these for use statewide would provide one to us through a subscription service.  However, we have been notified that there was insufficient demand by other agencies and the project was scrapped. 

Judge Barton has declared that as a judge, he does not have authority to grant “furloughs” to inmates who might need temporary release from jail custody for medical or domestic reasons.  From this point on, Judge Barton will decline all such requests from inmates and refer them instead to the sheriff who, he believes, does have such authority.  We have not yet heard from Judge Alderton regarding his intent in this regard.  Cmdr. Holland and the sheriff will prepare guidelines for dealing with these requests in order to assure consistency.


One of our detentions deputies has submitted her letter of resignation; her last day is May 17th.  She was a part time deputy that was working full time due to unfilled positions and manpower shortages.  This brings turnover to eight staff members in the past twelve months.  We are currently testing two candidates for the now three openings.

  Training Attended

Both detentions sergeants completed week-long jail sergeants training in Gunnison.  Two detentions corporals will be attending a two week supervisors training starting next week in Montrose.

  Equipment issues

The power outage due to the automobile/power pole crash caused damage to two DVRs, six video cameras, and two monitors in the detention center.  The replacement equipment has been ordered. 

The emergency generator tripped a breaker and did not function properly at the time of the accident.  The generator was completely checked out and load tested the following week, and the suspected problem was rectified.