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November 2014 report to the county commissioners


The sheriff and undersheriff

Our undersheriff, John Spezze, became sheriff-elect after the November election.  Although he was unopposed in the election, we kept our fingers crossed anyway.

Sheriff-elect Spezze announced his selection of our patrol commander, Derek Bos, to become undersheriff when the new administration takes office January 13.  In an interview with the Mountain Mail, the sheriff was quoted as saying of the two, “They’re both very open, honest and sincere.”

For the second successive year, readers of Salida’s daily newspaper, The Mountain Mail, voted Undersheriff John Spezze their favorite county employee.

Assisted by instructors from the state liquor enforcement division, the undersheriff and Chaffee County Clerk Joyce Reno hosted liquor server training at the county fairgrounds.  About thirty persons completed the session.

The sheriff issued his final email newsletter to subscribers.  It is posted on our website.


A Buena Vista man was taken into custody on a seventy-two-hour mental health hold after his erratic behavior alarmed his wife and neighbors.  After medical clearance at the local hospital, and with the assistance of West Central Mental Health personnel, officials sought placement of the man in a state mental health facility for the purpose of obtaining a psychological evaluation of his condition.  Not surprisingly, no facility had space and none could estimate a time at which the man could be accepted.  Eventually, with no other options available, the man was placed in our jail for violation of his probation after an earlier episode that had resulted in criminal charges.  He remained there for five days until space was obtained for him at the Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.  Coincidentally, the Denver Post in its Sunday edition that same weekend began a series of articles addressing the lack of facilities and resources statewide for dealing with the mentally ill.   

We were informed that the Crossroads Turning Points alcohol detoxification facility in Alamosa could no longer accept placement of Chaffee County clients due to a change in its funding sources that restricts services to Alamosa residents.  Our remaining resources at present for placement of seriously intoxicated persons are in Pueblo or Frisco.

A Nathrop man, 24, was arrested after members of the Chaffee County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at his parents’ home in the Chalk Creek area that turned up a quantity of methamphetamine and cash.  The arrest came after an undercover task force operation developed credible information that the man had sold methamphetamine at the house and was in possession of a quantity of the drug.  He was jailed on felony drug charges.  Bond was set at $10,000.  The press release is on our website.


  Training Issues

Deputies Mullenax, Orth, and Cortese completed the excruciating eight-hour Intoxilyzer course with passing grades. 

Deputy Ben Adair passed his final Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) exam.

Deputy Jesse Cortese and Cmdr. Derek Bos attended the semiannual regional SWAT / EOD training in Cripple Creek.  Other members of the county’s tactical team, BVPD officer Nick Weimen and EMS medic William Plackner, also participated in the training.

Members of the county’s tactical team participated in active shooter training at the Forest Service complex in Salida.  Training was developed and hosted by Salida PD.

Cmdr. Bos instructed two classes of Chaffee County EMS medics on their role and responsibilities at active shooter incidents.


  Complaints / commendations

A Buena Vista man complained that a deputy, without proper authority, entered the cabin occupied by the man’s tenant, improperly searched it, and threatened that on any future contact the deputy would arrest and jail both the tenant and the complainant/landlord.  After an investigation, the sheriff responded to the complainant by letter, offering an accurate narrative of the incident and exonerating the deputy of any misconduct.

As reported to the sheriff by a deputy, a Buena Vista woman complained of lack of response by the deputy to her complaint of barking dogs.  She also complained of poor service generally by our agency in the past, saying that she had been calling our agency for two years about the problem but that our deputies “haven’t done (expletive) about it” and that our employees have “their head up their a__.”  The woman also accused the deputy of lying to her about his effort to contact her by phone.  The sheriff replied to the woman in writing that in fact, according to our records we had received just three calls from her prior to this one.  Furthermore, contrary to her allegation of dishonesty by the deputy, his phone and hers had captured the call made to the woman.  In response to the woman’s treatment of the deputy, the sheriff wrote “the gratuitous incivility you showed this deputy, the insults you directed at him and our employees, is unacceptable” and that “in any future interaction [deputies] may have with you in which you behave toward them in the same fashion, that absent any emergency they are to politely but firmly terminate the contact until such time that civility is restored.” 

Jail Commander Rick Holland was commended by a local citizen, a woman, who had received a phone call from someone she was convinced was her grandson.  The boy told her, sobbing and crying, that he was in jail after being in a car in which police found cocaine.  According to the “grandson,” he needed $4,000 for bail.  The woman happened to contact Rick with the story who then, within a few minutes, demonstrated that the call was a scam, thereby saving the woman a good deal of cash and grief.  In return, the woman wrote a thank you note to Cmdr. Holland and sent along a package of candies to share with the staff.

Victims Advocate

Communications Center


Jennifer Rice joined the dispatch team on November 3.


  Training Attended

Dispatchers Rice and Fox attended Mental Health First Aid training.

Search and Rescue

Records and Administration

Detention Facility


Ann Matthews resigned and has relocated to Vermont.  Tonda Avila has taken over the duties as Transport Coordinator.  Matt Ormseth tendered his resignation and will be returning to Wyoming in December.  We hired Kecia Ortega to fill the vacancy left by Randy Carricato and she is starting on December 1st.  We are in final stages of hiring two more individuals

On Thanksgiving Day, Deana Kaiser organized a fantastic dinner provided by volunteers from churches throughout the community.  These volunteers donated prepared food as well as their time to serve the seventy-five inmates a home-cooked thanksgiving dinner.  The volunteers are members of First Baptist Church, The Vineyard, Church of Christ of Poncha Springs, Upper Room Church of God, Temple Baptist Church and River Valley Church.

  Training Attended

  Equipment issues