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May 2013 report to the county commissioners


The sheriff and undersheriff

The sheriff attended the Colorado Law Enforcement Officers Memorial ceremony held at Camp George West in Golden and later, the Buena Vista Heritage fundraiser held at the Buena Vista Museum.

The sheriff and jail commander met with the County finance director to present proposals for increasing staffing at the jail.  The sheriff presented a preliminary outline of a proposal to create a law enforcement authority within the unincorporated area of the county.  This taxing entity would affect only county residents and property owners.  It would require a resolution from the board of commissioners and a vote of county residents affected by the measure.  Revenue raised by the authority would allow us to hire additional patrol deputies and create an additional detective position.


In late March, deputies arrested four persons at a house in Poncha Springs.  Three were charged with felonies involving possession and distribution of drugs, mostly methamphetamine.  Search warrants resulted in the seizure of scores of electronic data devices -cell phones, computers, flash drives- that contained a load of information and links to what we suspect are people engaged heavily in the drug trade.  The amount of information merited investigative follow-up but its sheer volume prevented us, with so few resources, to pursue.  The data was transferred to a CD and sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Agents from that organization analyzed the data and made a referral to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms because of some items of interest regarding weapons.  However, no further work will be possible on this case due to our limited resources and staffing.

Patrol Commander Derek Bos and Sergeant Kevin Everson represented the sheriff’s office at a career day fair at Salida High School hosted by the Chaffee County Economic Development Council.

A sheriff’s deputy assisted three Salida PD officers responding to a domestic disturbance at a residence on H Street in Salida.  On arrival at the front of the residence, officers were met with gunfire aimed at them from inside.  Officers did not return fire as they were unable to see the suspect and were aware that a woman was also inside the house.  Within minutes, the woman fled out the rear of the house, followed shortly after by the suspect who was armed with a handgun.  Ignoring commands by an officer and a deputy stationed in back, the suspect fired several times at them.  They returned fire, fatally wounding the suspect, a 36-year old parolee with an extensive criminal history.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Agents from CBI are investigating the shooting and the results of their work will be submitted to the district attorney.  The deputy and officer are on paid administrative leave and the sheriff is fully confident that their use of lethal force will be determined to have been completely justified in this case.

A man’s body was found in the Arkansas River in Fremont County just below our county border.  The victim was a resident of Chaffee County and may have entered the water in our county.  Officials from both counties are cooperating in the investigation.  At this point, foul play is not suspected.  We are awaiting results of the autopsy.

Undersheriff John Spezze, while patrolling on US Hwy 50 east of Salida, spotted a small red pickup truck travelling east at high speed.  As the pickup approached the entrance to Big Horn Sheep Canyon, Undersheriff Spezze estimated its speed at about 95mph.  Spezze activated his vehicle’s emergency lights but the driver of the vehicle failed to yield and continued on.  Fearing for the safety of other motorists, Spezze turned off his lights but continued to follow the vehicle as it eventually slowed to about 45mph.  Chaffee County dispatchers alerted Fremont County sheriff’s deputies and a state patrol trooper in Howard.  The trooper eventually was able to get the motorist stopped and the driver, a 30-year-old Saguache resident, was arrested and jailed on $50,000 bond for a variety of violations.  The press release is on our website, www.chaffeesheriff.org

Liquor server training sponsored by the county clerk’s and sheriff’s offices was conducted at the fairgrounds on May 20.  Approximately 52 people attended, including a town clerk.  All passed the test to complete the course.  Cmdr. Derek Bos assisted at the event.

Four members of the Chaffee County Tactical Team, under the direction of patrol commander Derek Bos, assisted US postal inspectors and Leadville PD officers in securing a house in Leadville whose occupants were suspected of shipping marijuana to other locations using the US mail.  The task was carried out without incident.

At our request, independent random audits of our property/evidence room were conducted by a Salida PD sergeant and a Buena Vista PD sergeant.  Several discrepancies were noted and we are in the process of correcting them.  Remodeling of the former patrol office on the third floor of the administration building will remedy some of these problems (we hope), but the lack of automation in the property/evidence function continues to be a concern.

Undersheriff John Spezze contacted a former colleague at Denver PD to request assistance in locating a fugitive believed to be in that city.  This was in response to a request from a local citizen who had posted bond for the subject (her son) and was facing forfeiture because of the subject’s failure to appear in Denver and Arapahoe courts as required.  Due to the undersheriff’s intervention, the courts not only declined to order forfeiture of the woman’s bond money but instead returned it to her in light of the documented efforts being made to find and arrest her son.

Sgt. Kevin Everson is gauging interest in creating a CCSO Explorer Post that would be open to local young people ages 14 to 21.  Presentations were conducted at high schools in Salida and Buena Vista.

Commander Derek Bos responded to a report of an armed man threatening people on the golf course west of Buena Vista.  Arriving in the area, Bos was confronted by a man who appeared intoxicated, yelling and swearing.  On a porch near where the man was standing was a rifle fitted with a large telescope.  Bos, fearing the man could be armed with a handgun, ordered him several times to show his hands.  The man refused to comply and was forcibly arrested. Witnesses reported hearing the man earlier swearing and gesturing, apparently having been in a domestic argument.  One witness who had been golfing alone near the eighth green reported that just before Bos’s arrival, the man picked up the rifle and aimed it directly at the witness, forcing the witness to retreat behind a tree in fear of his life.  The press release is posted on our website, www.chaffeesheriff.org.

So far this pay period, our sole detective has accrued over 31 hours of overtime and our patrol commander about the same.  The detective’s case load is extensive and he has been unable to do follow-up work on any property crimes cases for at least a month.

  Training Attended

Sgt. Kevin Everson attended a five-day training course to become certified as a patrol rifle instructor.  Course was conducted at the Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training Facility.


  Complaints / commendations

Deputy District Attorney Molly Chilson wrote the sheriff “to commend your department for the diligence and professionalism exhibited by Detective Rohrich and Deputy Stephens in the investigation and trial” of a defendant in a major drug distribution case. Ms. Chilson cited Detective Andy Rohrich’s “ability to fairly convey the facts and the evidence, without exaggeration or omission.”  About Deputy Stephens, Ms. Chilson wrote, “He had the task of preparing to testify to two cases, two sets of CBI submissions, on different dates and concerning completely separate incidents. His performance on the stand, and in trial preparation, was greatly appreciated by this prosecutor. He was reliable, responsive and helpful throughout.”  The defendant was convicted on all counts.

The sheriff received an email from a local citizen commending Deputy Jesse Cortese.  The citizen wrote, “I had the pleasure of meeting Deputy Cortese last evening.  I had called the Sheriff’s office because a neighbor’s Rottweiler had come on to our property and attacked one of our small dogs.  Deputy Cortese fulfilled every expectation one would hope to see in a law enforcement officer.  He was professional, knowledgeable, helpful, and sympathetic.  Further, he did everything he said he was going to do including contacting the owner of the Rottweiler and then calling us back to inform us of the contact.  We were pleased to learn the caliber of law enforcement officers you have on your staff.”

Detective Andy Rohrich received a poignant letter of thanks from a young female sexual assault victim whose case he investigated.  She wrote, “[T]hank you for everything you did for me.  Having you on my side made me feel like I got to have control over my life again…  You were one of the first people who fully believed me, and wanted to do something about it…  Everyone in my family has said many times how amazing you have been and that you made them feel comfortable and relaxed and respected…”

Victims Advocate

Communications Center

Records and Administration

Detention Facility

We received the Jail Compliance Monitoring Report from the Colorado Department of Public Safety.  This annual report documents the number of violations of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act for calendar year 2012.  Once again, the Chaffee County Detention Center was in full compliance with the law, with no violations.

An inmate smashed his fist and head into a glass partition. Three officers were diverted from patrol duties to assist in subduing the man.  Our jail nurse examined and treated him; hospitalization was not required.

The suspect arrested after the high speed pursuit (reported above) was processed and placed into a pod.  He immediately assaulted another inmate, stating they were all out to get him.  He was moved back to a holding cell.  When officers tried to take him to court he became combative and head-butted Deputy Bowers.  He was subdued without further incident.  Several days later officers took this subject to meet with his public defender and while escorting him back to his holding cell he was agitated and struck the jail commander.  Again, ;the inmate was subdued without further incident.  Staff has been working with West Central Mental Health for evaluation and treatment.


We currently have two part-time openings and testing is ongoing.

  Training Attended

Sergeant Martinez just completed a week long Train the Trainer course put on by County Sheriffs of Colorado

  Equipment issues

We are currently replacing a DVR and cameras in the jail.  We lost one DVR and another was damaged, along with six cameras, by a power surge.  Work is being handled by staff.