Sheriff's race continues to steal spotlight



Gary Wall, the Democratic candidate for Routt County sheriff, served as Vail's police chief during the 1970s and currently is a private investigator.


Garrett Wiggins, the Republican candidate for Routt County sheriff, is a police officer and narcotics investigator with the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

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— Another debate, another development in the race for Routt County sheriff.

No bickering or thinly veiled insults occurred at Monday night's political forum, but the two candidates for sheriff again stole the show by sharply disagreeing about the amount of certification training Democratic private investigator Gary Wall would need should he defeat Republican police officer and narcotics investigator Garrett Wiggins in the Nov. 7 election.

The standing-room-only event, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Routt County at Olympian Hall in the Howelsen Lodge, came two days after a Northwest Political Agricultural Forum during which Wall publicly doubted Wiggins' ability to earn a promotion in law enforcement, and Wiggins questioned whether Wall had "half a brain in his head."

Monday's forum was civil. From the start, moderator Mark Fischer set rules limiting speakers to positive comments, and candidates in numerous local and regional races tread lightly on differences with their opponents. The candidates for Routt County commissioner in District 3, Republican Paul Strong and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, varied in their responses to a question about the importance of a diverse economy in Routt County.

Mitsch Bush, who has served as vice-chairwoman for the Routt County Planning Commission for nine years, said such diversity is "vital" to the county's future and can be achieved by nurturing current economic engines such as coal mining, ranching and tourism, while also fostering new growth in local manufacturing and technology industries.

Strong, a seven-year member and former president of the Steamboat Springs City Council, addressed the issue with caution.

"I have some concerns when we talk about diversifying our economy," he said, warning that diversification could create a sharply rising population. "That adds to the growth problem."

Strong said "economic gardening" of local businesses is a better policy, naming The Industrial Company, or TIC, as an example.

While Mitsch Bush and Strong shook hands after their debate, the sheriff candidates, who followed them, did not.

A written question submitted by an audience member and read by Fischer asked whether Wall, who has not served in uniform since leaving his job as Vail police chief in 1979, would need to attend an academy to renew his Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, certification from the state.

Wall said he would not only have more than a year to renew the certification, but he could also do so through a two-week refresher course or even by petitioning for a waiver from the state.

Wiggins, who is certified, replied that after a three-year lapse in POST certification, full attendance at a state law enforcement academy is required - a process that he said could take "five to six months."

"That is just not true," Wall said.

Section 30-10-501.6 of the Colorado Revised Statutes states that:

"Every person elected or appointed to the office of sheriff for the first time shall attend a minimum of 80 clock hours at a new sheriff training course : (and) obtain basic peace officer certification within one year of taking office. An extension may be granted by the Colorado peace officers standards and training board of up to one year to obtain such certification upon just cause shown."

Thus, if elected, Wall could have up to two years to obtain POST certification.

But doing so could take more than two weeks.

The 2006 POST Manual, on the Web site of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, states that a basic renewal of POST certification can be obtained by completing "a POST-approved refresher academy, including the law enforcement driving and firearms skills training" or "a skills examination : at a POST test-out site."

According to the manual, a refresher academy requires a minimum of 88 hours for the academic portion, and could require an additional 92 hours for firearms and driving skills training.

Whether renewal could be achieved after a three-year certification lapse was unclear in the manual, which defined an eligible applicant as someone who: "Is not serving and has not served as a peace officer or reserve peace officer for at least six months within the previous three years."


Hmmm 10 years, 5 months ago

Well said steamboat_pilot....hopefully the citizens of Routt County make the right choice and there won't be anyone twisting at the end of the string. Democrats, Republicans, and smart, vote right, vote Wiggins.


nobodysbusiness 10 years, 5 months ago

The POST Clearly states that the limit is three years. The information is readily available on the Colorado Attorney Generals Website, under the POST icon. Anyone with further questions should contact John Camerzelle (sp) who is the director of POST, he will let you know the law. My two cents.


seabirth 10 years, 5 months ago

getitright makes a valid point - who is going to be wall's undersheriff?

hey gary, here's your chance to actually make an actual decision that has something to do with being a real sheriff (the fake badge is so cute). make a decision gary, just one little decision.

the undersheriff is an important position, why should anyone vote for a candidate that will not let the voters know the whole picture? maybe picking an undersheriff is like deciding on amendment 44.... too confusing for mr ego.


ihatestupidpeople 10 years, 5 months ago

sheriff werner is post cert. how will wall back up a deputy in need when he is not post cert. what happens when a dep. trooper or city cop getting shot at or beat up. when the piece of work can't even carry a gun in law enforcement. that is not good. i bet his undersheriff is gonna be that wondeful chief of police that we have here in oak creek she likes to give drunks a ride home and not arrest people that have been in domestic like me. she is a door knob shaker like mr wall


Tom Whiddon 10 years, 5 months ago

Hey Mike,

You failed to mention that Gary Wall did not answer the entire question which was who would pay for the cost of his certification, he or the tax payers? My guess is the tax payers!

Gary Wall's arrogance toward this lack of certification is alarming. He acted like the certification was no big deal. If Wall believes he should be teaching the courses, I wonder which ones he would even be qualified to teach?

By the way, who would Gary Wall choose to be his Undersheriff? I be it wouldn't be a woman!


Hmmm 10 years, 5 months ago

Gary Wall thinks that being a state certified officer is a joke....just read some of his comments about it. Why a guy who wants to be Sheriff would just toss the certification process aside is beyond me ("the irony is that I should be teaching those classes", "is passing the test for POST anything like passing the test for sergeant?")....what a huge slap in the face to every officer who is certified and puts his/her life on the line everyday. Gary Wall has no respect for anyone, but himself....he's Mr. Anti-Law Enforcement.

And one more thing, the only reason that the moderator for Monday night's forum had to lay down some ground rules (i.e. positive comments), was because of the unprofessional display that Wall had put on during the previous forum (the one where Wall was supposed to speak on "Ag" issues, but decided to immediately attack his opponent)....nice work Wall and everybody there saw you for what you are....a basement dweller!

Hey Routt County....Wall wants to be Sheriff for the wrong reasons....he even said in an earlier article, "I don't need this job." (oh yeah, he's not qualified either....bankruptcy, 3 IRS tax liens, was arrested in 2001, not a state certified officer, hasn't been in law enforcement in 27 years, etc.). Proud to be an American, Proud to be Democrat, and Proud that I WILL NOT BE VOTING FOR WALL.


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