Dealing with drugs

During forum, Wiggins stands behind task force; Wall not so sure

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— Republican Routt County sheriff candidate Garrett Wiggins would continue to support a local drug task force if elected, while Democratic sheriff candidate Gary Wall said he doesn't know enough about the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, or GRAMNET, to commit to a stance.

Wiggins, a Steamboat Springs police officer currently working as a drug investigator for GRAMNET, said the drug problem in Northwest Colorado necessitates such a task force.

"I am definitely in support of GRAMNET," Wiggins said during a candidates forum in Oak Creek on Tuesday.

"I live in the narcotics world right now, and let me tell you, meth is here. I just bought heroin in Steamboat Springs, as a matter of fact," he said, referring to a recent GRAMNET operation.

"I will do everything in my power to keep GRAMNET, because right now we have four officers working 7,500 square miles of Northwest Colorado. If one quits, it's over. We're done."

And if GRAMNET were to disband, Wiggins said he'd dedicate Sheriff's Office deputies to drug task enforcement. The Routt County Sheriff's Office, Steamboat Springs Police Department, Craig Police Department and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office are the four local agencies that support GRAMNET with officers and money. GRAMNET also receives federal funding.

Wall, meanwhile, said he was "out of the loop" in regards to GRAMNET and wasn't sure whether, if elected, he'd continue Sheriff's Office support of the task force. He said he has heard multiple complaints about GRAMNET officers violating people's civil liberties and would want to look into those allegations before making any decisions.

Wall also suggested looking "at the bigger picture of drug use in the country" and called for more outreach programs.

"I think we need to be focusing on intervention and education of drug users, because we couldn't build jails or prisons big enough to house everyone facing drug charges," he said. "I'm all for drug enforcement, but I'm also for looking at the bigger picture."

Wall, who has emphasized protecting civil liberties throughout his campaign, criticized Wiggins for saying Monday that police officers occasionally use a "ruse" to help them investigate cases.

"(Wiggins) proudly admitted the police lie to the public," Wall told the crowd of about 30 people at the Oak Creek Community Center. "He called it a ruse, which the dictionary defines (as) 'to deceive.' The thesaurus says a ruse is a 'deception, deceit, sham or to contrive.' Those are not words that should be associated with a police department, because those are words that erode public trust."

"There are plenty of ways to investigate cases without being dishonest," Wiggins countered, saying that Wall twisted his words, and that a ruse is a legal, lawful tool officers often have to use.

"If some pervert molests your child, I am sure you want me to use whatever tool available to me to investigate," Wiggins said. "I will not lie to the public. That isn't the case at all. He's completely taken my words out of context."

Also at Tuesday's forum, Routt County commissioner candidates Diane Mitsch Bush, a Democrat, and Paul Strong, a Republican, discussed issues concerning South Routt residents such as county road maintenance and funding for schools outside the Steamboat Springs School District.

Mitsch Bush said although the county has a healthy reserve in its Road and Bridge Department, she would consider bringing a countywide bond issue to voters that would provide more money to widen and maintain more county roads.

Strong said he disagreed that raising taxes would be the right thing to do.

"I would have a hard time supporting a tax increase with our current level of reserves," he said. "It's like taking a family that has enough money to buy a car with cash, and a family that needs a loan to buy a car. It's like saying, 'I have lots of money already, but I need more money to do other stuff.'"

Oak Creek resident Paulie Anderson asked Mitsch Bush and Strong how they would work to bring more money to the South Routt School District.

Mitsch Bush said there is a disparity between school districts in the county that can be solved only by forming partnerships between school, county and state officials.

"The idea that maybe money from Steamboat will trickle down hasn't worked in the past. I think one way for us to get at this issue is to get county commissioners from the region, including in urban and rural areas, to go to the state. Commissioners can be lobbyists," she said. "And we need to talk about these issues."

Strong said he would look into implementing a countywide sales tax that would benefit the county, not just Steamboat.

"The problem right now is the half-cent sales tax that you all pay when you shop in Steamboat goes to the kids in Steamboat. That probably should have been a countywide sales tax, and not citywide," he said.

U.S. House District 57 candidate Mike Kien, a Libertarian from Oak Creek, was the only candidate in that race to attend Tuesday's forum. Kien told the audience that he would fight for their civil liberties and protect their Constitutional rights.

Routt County candidates for assessor Mike Kerrigan, a Democrat; Nancy Terry, an independent candidate; and Dick Klumker, a Republican, also attended the forum.

- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

seabirth 7 years, 6 months ago

wow, what a surprise... gary's answer to an important law enforcement issue is "I DON'T KNOW."

gary, when are you going to take a firm stand on any issue?

let me guess..."you don't know."

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kingsride 7 years, 6 months ago

Tin badges is out of the loop on this issue? Imagine that! Would someone tell him the election is in November and that perhaps its time to get in the loop?

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JazzSlave 7 years, 6 months ago

steamboat_pilot

In my opinion, it makes absolutely no sense whatever. Too many cooks in the kitchen. It reminds me of the so-called "dream ticket" proposed in 1980, when Ford was put forward as Reagan's veep. Ford's team was making noises about a 'co-presidency', which would have entailed Reagan relinquishing some authority to Ford. Constitutional issues aside, Reagan's people convinced him that a Reagan Administration could only have one chief - not two.

Your post does nothing to convince me that your problems re: the judiciary will be addressed regardless of who wins next month.

It appears to me that we'll be choosing between a politician and a cop. I'm voting for the cop.

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jc 7 years, 6 months ago

It apprears Mr. Wall would be better suited going to law school and then helping the ALCU defend drug dealers and child molesters that prey upon our children.

Does Mr. Wall not realize this is a law enforcement agency who's responsibility is to protect it's community and enforce the laws of this county and state?

Please vote for the candidate that supports enforcing our laws and protects it's citizens - VOTE Garrett Wiggins

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flipside 7 years, 6 months ago

OF COURSE Garrett would keep it going - HE WORKS FOR GRAMNET!!!!!

It's the only promotion he's ever gotten.

BWAHAHAHAHA

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Hmmm 7 years, 6 months ago

Suprise, Surprise....Gary Wall is uanble to take a stand on yet another law enforcement related issue. I guess Gary Wall would rather see the METH problem become bigger and destroy more lives, than support a task force that could help the already swamped street cop. "Outreach programs"....what in the world? This isn't a little bit of pot we're talking about....this is METH and HEROIN....and Gary Wall wants a 12-step program or something for these dirtbags. Once again, he has proved that he is anti-law enforcement and "soft on crime".....and he is still talking about people's civil liberties. When is Gary Wall going to stand up, take a stance, and address the issues? Oh yeah, he won't.....he just wants to cry about people's civil liberties throughout his campaign.....cry baby! And why does Gary Wall care soooo much about the civil liberties and rights of the criminals? What about the civil liberties and rights of the victims? Oh yeah, Gary Wall is anti-law enforcement and likes putting the criminals ahead of the victims. Since Gary Wall won't say it, I will.....THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS COME FIRST AND THE RIGHTS OF CRIMINALS = DEAD LAST!!!

Proud to be an American, Proud to be Democrat, and Proud that I AM NOT VOTING FOR GARY WALL!

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KennyK 7 years, 6 months ago

I have known Garrett Wiggins for a few years. He is a man of integrity. After reviewing the comments of both candidates over the last few weeks it is painfully obvious Garrett Wiggins is the only realistic choice for Sheriff. According to an insider poll, over 90% of the current deputies think Garrett Wiggins should be Sheriff. This includes Democrat and Republican deputies. I also believe he would investigate and take whatever action necessary against public officials abusing their office. Garrett Wiggins despises prevaricators.

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seabirth 7 years, 6 months ago

boodog, you are right that talking about drug outreach and treatment are talking points across the political spectrum.

the problem is that gary wall is not running for congress, governor, city hall, or any other numerous positions where this might matter. a sheriff is elected to enforce laws and what happens to a drug task force is a critical issue, whether you agree with gramnet or not, and should not be an "i don't know" answer by a candidate for sheriff.

you want more treatment and outreach programs, maybe you should be running for a position that actually gets to change the drug laws, such as a legislative position. changing the drug laws by refusing to enforce them in a law enforcement capacity is imo wrong.

actually, while it's obvious who i'm voting for, what infuriates me the most about gary wall is his inability to take a position, he just reeks of political bs.

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bear 7 years, 6 months ago

One thing I heard last night from mister Wall was that the sheriff is nothing more than a administrative job. While this is true to a certain extent, what mr.Wall doesn't seem to realize is that the sheriff is the top law enforcement offical of the county. From what I can see Mr. Wiggins won't just be sitting behind a desk shuffling papers I expect we will see him out in the county seeing how things are going, and if there is a major situation I would rather see the man with the current training running the situation, not someone who seems to have a problem taking a position

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KennyK 7 years, 6 months ago

I would respectively suggest that after Garrett is sworn in, provide him with the evidence of the referenced judicial corruption. Then, challenge him to proceed.

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KennyK 7 years, 6 months ago

Maybe you could get the State Attorney General involved. Although to be honest, I presented evidence of crimes by a local official and the AG responded by saying it was a local matter and should be addressed locally. I pursued that avenue short of court proceedings to no avail.

18 USC Sec. 4. Misprision of felony:

"Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

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