Our Latest News

April 2014 report to the county commissioners


The sheriff and undersheriff

The undersheriff and county clerk co-sponsored a Liquor Server Training Class at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds.  Instructors were from the state’s liquor enforcement division, and 78 persons attended the class.

The sheriff presented the Making Democracy Work award to Buena Vista rancher Joe Cogan at the annual dinner of the League of Women Voters of Chaffee County.

We received a formal Notice of Plaintiff’s Voluntary Dismissal of a law suit filed against our employees in US District Court last December alleging various acts of misconduct during an arrest in Johnson Village two years previously.  The incident had been reviewed by command staff earlier and the employees exonerated of any misconduct.

Deputies participated in a DUI awareness event held at Salida High School, sponsored by Salida Police Department and Colorado State Patrol. 

Our fifth participation in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative, with collection sites in Salida and Buena Vista, resulted in the collection of 172 pounds of unused prescription medications that otherwise would have ended up in landfills.  Thanks especially to Rebecca Rice of Chaffee County Build A Generation who devoted many hours to this event, and to Buena Vista and Salida police departments that provided officers at each site.


“Click It or Ticket,” the statewide program to promote seat belt awareness, began March 31 and ran through April 6.  CCSO participated in the program using grant funds for deputies’ overtime. 

A three-hour drill to test emergency response to an active shooter was conducted at Buena Vista High School.  The drill included a lockdown and shelter in place by staff and students, clearing the school by officers, evacuation by bus of all students and staff to a reunification center, reuniting of students and parents, and a debriefing of staff with law enforcement officers present the following morning.  Participation by the high school students and staff was excellent, and much credit goes to the principal, Ryan Yates, for his leadership.  Agencies participating were ours, Chaffee County Fire Protection District, EMS, Buena Vista Police Department, and members of the Leadville Police Department’s tactical team.

Officers of the Chaffee County Drug Task Force arrested eight persons on felony drug distribution charges arising from a several weeks’ long undercover investigation.  Task force members were from this agency, the Buena Vista and Salida police departments, and the district attorney’s office.  Chief Clark’s press release is posted on our website.

A 47-year-old Fairplay man was arrested by members of the Chaffee County Drug Task Force after allegedly selling suspected methamphetamine to another man.  The arrest resulted from an undercover operation initiated after information was obtained by officers from an informant whose identity was not released.  The man was jailed on $20,000 bond.  Street value of the seized methamphetamine was conservatively estimated by detectives to be $8,000 to $10,000.  The press release is on our website.

A bomb threat was received at Avery Parsons Elementary School in Buena Vista, resulting in the evacuation of the school.  Deputy Marty Johnson, Undersheriff Spezze, and Cmdr. Bos played an active role in helping resolve the incident.  Buena Vista PD is still investigating the threat

   Training Issues

Deputy Ben Adair received a letter of acceptance into the Drug Recognition Expert School to be held in Denver this summer, June 2 through June 12. 

Sergeant Matt Goodwin, Deputy Jesse Cortese, and Deputy Marty Johnson attended an eight hour class in Woodland Park for SWAT teams in our All Hazards Region.  The class taught active shooter techniques for law enforcement and also addressed hostage rescue issues.  The class was well attended by SWAT teams in our region.  The long term plan is to do something similar every six months throughout the region.

Deputy Adair travelled to Canon City to attend a search and seizure case law update class in Canon City sponsored by Central Mountain Training Foundation.  On arrival, he found the class had been moved to Fountain PD.  The explanation from the CMTF director for the change in venue was that most officers who signed up for the training were from the Front Range agencies.  We have an on-going dispute with CMTF over the fact that very little training is offered in our area; in fact, almost all officers attending the case law training were from larger agencies such as Colorado Springs PD, El Paso County SO, and by far the largest contingent from Fountain PD, the agency which employs the director.

Deputies Cortese and Burgess attended two days ARIDE training at Salida PD, one of the few CMTF courses offered locally.  ARIDE (Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement) teaches officers to better identify impaired drivers, particularly those under the influence of drugs

Several members of this agency attended a two-hour training session on new legislation concerning victims’ assistance.


Deputy Logan Tidwell resigned to accept employment with Westminster PD due to higher pay and better benefits offered by that agency.  His last day was April 28th.  He will be greatly missed.  

A conditional offer of employment was extended to Lamine Mullenax to replace Deputy Tidwell.  He has a tentative start date of May 9th.  Lamine has just over a year with the Leadville PD.  He was born and raised in the Buena Vista area.

Court security deputy Dennis Norman retired after four decades of law enforcement and corrections service.

Staffing concerns (from Cmdr. Derek Bos):  We are currently short two deputies, which places us at our patrol staffing minimums.  If we lose any more people we will not be able to provide adequate shift coverage and will be required to cut services somewhere.  We place our deputies at greater risk of personal safety due to inadequate staffing, longer response times, etc. Currently, being short two positions, we call deputies in on overtime just to cover vacations, training, etc, which is taxing on the deputies creating many potential problems due to long term fatigue.  We will mostly likely not be fully staffed again until December.  

 Complaints / commendations

The owner of a Poncha Springs house that was forcibly entered by deputies seeking to check on his welfare called the sheriff to express appreciation for their concern.  The man was staying in an assisted living facility in Pueblo but failed to have his daily newspaper delivery halted, causing the delivery man to call our office concerned about the man whom he feared was still in the house.  The homeowner, although expressing thanks, wondered why the deputies had not checked with his neighbors (who live a quarter mile down the road) or why we hadn’t called the alarm company whose sign was displayed at the residence.  In fact, we failed to call the company who would have informed us of the man’s absence.  The sheriff’s office paid for repair of the damaged door.

The mother of a 30-year-old female resident of our detention facility left a voicemail for the sheriff complaining that our employees had not responded properly to the mother’s request for certain information.  “If I ran my business the way you run your department, and the way your (inaudible) run the government, I’d be out of business,” she said.  Responding to the sheriff’s return call, the woman said she called our agency and was told the bond amount, but at the jail discovered the bond had increased.  The sheriff explained that one of two things happened: either circumstances changed in the interim of her call and her arrival at the jail that resulted in the increased bond amount, or someone made a human and relatively minor error.  In either case, no change in policy or procedure is warranted. 

Victims Advocate

Communications Center

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week honoring the work of public safety dispatchers was April 13-19.  Annette Stolba’s letter to the editor was published by the Mountain Mail who sent a reporter to the communications center for photos and comments, resulting in an article in the newspaper on Friday of that week.

Search and Rescue

Records and Administration

Detention Facility


  Training Attended

Detention and Court Security deputies completed firearms training and qualifications.  All detention deputies are signed up and active on the Relias online training courses.  A schedule for the remainder of the year will be completed and implemented within the next week.