Our View: Wall's moves bold, risky

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Several newly elected officials took office last week, including County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, Assessor Mike Kerrigan and Sheriff Gary Wall.

Public service is noble work for relatively small rewards. The pay is not competitive with the private sector and the criticism often outweighs the praise. Let us begin 2007 by welcoming these new servants into their roles and wishing them and all other elected officials the best in the new year.

That said, we would be remiss if we did not take note of the different approaches the newly elected officials took to their first days in office. Mitsch Bush and Kerrigan joined all other county officers for a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday morning. Judge James Garrecht handled the oaths of office without a lot of fanfare. Mitsch Bush immediately left for training in Denver. Kerrigan got settled in.

Contrast that with our new sheriff. Wall insisted on his own private ceremony and asked all the deputies in his department to attend. He was sworn in by Judge Michael O'Hara, and then each deputy took the oath individually. "I wanted this to be a special occasion," Wall said. "There's a new sheriff. I wanted them to get a flavor of how I operate."

Let us be clear - Wall won a convincing victory in the November election. He netted 55 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Garrett Wiggins, who netted 44 percent. He won on a platform of change, so it should not come as a surprise that he is implementing such change.

What is perhaps surprising is how rapidly those changes are coming.

Even before he took the oath, Wall informed several longtime Sheriff's Office employees - Undersheriff Dan Taylor, Investigator Rachelle Redmond and Sgt. Dan Kelliher - that their services would not be needed in his administration. Taylor had been undersheriff to outgoing Sheriff John Warner, and Redmond had agreed to be undersheriff to Wiggins, so perhaps their departures were inevitable. "I have chosen who to give commissions to," Wall said. "John Warner gave commissions to people that I will not. Any new sheriff is entitled to do whatever he chooses."

Wall chose as his undersheriff David Bustos, Wall's assistant police chief in Vail in the 1970s. Most recently Bustos worked for a security company in Utah. Neither Wall nor Bustos has a current Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, but Wall feels no sense of urgency. "It's not like I am in a hurry to do that. I'll do it when I think that's appropriate," Wall said. "Not having (certification) won't hinder my duties in any way."

Finally, there's the issue of his office. Wall said he plans to use an office at the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat, a few miles away from the Sheriff's Office and Routt County Jail. Wall said it's an effort to live up to his campaign pledge to be accessible to the public. But if someone is looking for the sheriff, isn't the Sheriff's Office the logical place to look?

Time may show that Wall's moves are the right ones. But sweeping staff change and decisions that draw attention to him individually put the spotlight squarely on the new sheriff. The boldness of his statements and actions leave little margin for error. That's a big risk for someone returning to law enforcement for the first time in more than 30 years.

Comments

Getitright 7 years, 3 months ago

Amen! Wall has taken control. With an office at the downtown location he can keep an eye on the commisioners and the police department. Wall doesn't need a badge, he needs a crown!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Wall doesn't need a crown, just a plug for the brain-enema bag that keeps leaking out crap ideas. So far, I think it's hilarious that a new sheriff can shoot himself in the foot so many times and it hasn't even been a week. When did Barney Fife take over Andy's job?

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SBlessing 7 years, 3 months ago

Any manager in any business knows that you must be in proximity, accessible and accountable to your internal and external stakeholders. For the sheriif of a county to disassociate and remove himself from his internal stakeholders shows that they do not understand nor know how to manage. Nice start.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Well then Tigger- Why is more prudent for a County Sheriff to keep his office in the City, where he has to defer most calls to SSPD, and be further away from not only the county jail & new courthouse, but away from his own staff? I think the wrong words were used. He's not going to be more accessible to the public; just to his voter base that will not receive services from him more often than not.

Also, is wasting more taxpayer money to be "special" when being sworn in prudent just to reinforce that Democrats are spenders? That's definitely wasteful. Yep, sore losers just because Roscoe P. wants to spend taxpayer money to give his pride a massage.

So would I consider myself a Sore Loser? You bet. Would I also consider pro-Wall voters Wasteful Winners? Again: you bet. Sure hope we never here about money being wasted in Iraq anymore when it's ok to spend on ego-strokin'.

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Tigger 7 years, 3 months ago

As I said and you admitted it, sore losers, lol. I really don't care about the sherriffs department. I mean, our biggest problem was the rainbow family. The two runners for the sherriffs office both sucked. It was Wall or some dumb redneck.

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flipside 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh, poor davinci ... maybe another bon bon will ease your suffering.

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goldilocks 7 years, 3 months ago

Is that all you have to say flipside? You are a very negative person. And I am sitll waiting for an apology for your comments insulting the SSPD wives. Maybe you shoudl try to say something intelligent rather than post personal attacks against davinci.

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onethought 7 years, 3 months ago

I hope Sheriff Wall reads these comments. I did vote for you Mr. Wall, but now am wondering if it was the right choice. I wonder why getting certified by P.O.S.T. is not a high priority for you? You can not carry a weapon, nor take any calls for service in the county, let alone make an arrest, what would happen if you were the only person available to take a call and a shooting occured???? What about your sheriff vehicle, can you even drive one with out being legal to respond to calls for service? As for not having your office at the Sheriff's Office building, how do you support your officers if they don't know your around? All calls for emergency go into the dispatch center which is located in the S.O. building. It would only seem logical that the SHERIFF would be at the sheriff's Office, not at the Court House in downtown Steamboat. Your officers that are trying their best to do their jobs are left with you not seemingly to care at all what happens in the daily running of the office. Unfortunately those same officers are taking up the slack when you could be helping out if you and the undersheriff were certified. I did not know that Routt County had the luxury of a non working Sheriff.

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Hmmm 7 years, 3 months ago

Editor- The article is good and poses fair questions. My question is this, when is somebody going to ask the hard questions regarding the terminations of Redmond and Keliher? To an extent, I can understand Redmond's termination. What is Wall's reason for terminating the other deputy? He hasn't given one, other than the Sheriff can do what he chooses, which is a "junk" excuse. I've talked to several people in South Routt and many believe that Wall fulfilled a personal promise to a certain ex-mayor (it's no secret that she and Wall are friends and she didn't like that deputy). As an elected official to the office of Sheriff, Wall should not be fulfilling personal agendas and making personal promises. Using tax dollars for that purpose is wrong.

Why aren't the commissioners asking tough questions? Those 2 deputies had over 20 years committed to serving Routt County, are well more qualified than Wall will ever be, and have lived in the valley longer than most of us. Wall might be a good Sheriff after things start moving along, but his lack of respect towards the Sheriff's Office and the community has not gotten him off to a "running start".

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flipside 7 years, 3 months ago

goldilocks ... who do you think you are??? and WHY should I apologize to you??? Stay out of it newcomer. Numbers is one of the most vicious people on here. She has a personal agenda since her husband is an SSPD officer who's buddies with GW. "Waiting for an apology" .... ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 3 months ago

Question... Who is Wall to say where his office will be, doesn't the county commissioners assign offices?

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bcpow 7 years, 3 months ago

Hey wormtongue, don't you have anything else to do with your life? SInce you have so much time to post, why don't you do something productive and initiate a recall. Oh wait...you will have to come out from behind the curtains and Dorothy and Toto won't be too impressed.

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kingsride 7 years, 3 months ago

I am not a tin badges supporter, never have been and never will be. Having said that, I think it is important to point out that when Rachelle teamed politically with Garret as his choice for undersheriff during the political campaign she sealed her fate in the event that Wall won which he ultimately did. Rachelle knew that, as it is pretty standard practice to not retain persons who are politically active in Sheriffs races. Typically persons who stay out of the politics, and do their jobs are retained when new Sheriffs take office. I do not know where Keliher fits in to this mix. I doubt Wall will ever comment on the specifics regarding Keliher but will stick to general comments about not issuing commissions to any person he chooses not to. It is his perogative, as he is ultimately liable for the actions of all those persons.

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HolySmoke 7 years, 3 months ago

The Rainbows left 6 months ago and you are still blaming things on them! DAVINCI...you're a pile of dung..stinky, smelly and annoying. Open your small, closed mind and look for the positive things that people that you do not know may have to offer you just might learn something even from a Rainbow that you hate so much.

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ihatestupidpeople 7 years, 3 months ago

hay you guys just need to quite fighting davinci she has some very good points and knows her stuff leave her alone you rock davinci

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goldilocks 7 years, 3 months ago

flipside- I asked for an apology becuase in your heckling of davinci in an earlier comment, you proceeded to insult all the wives of the SSPD. As far as my being a "newcomer," that shouldn't matter. I am as much of a citizen of this country as you are, and I have every right to say what I want. Davinci may attack the ideas and opinions of other people, but as far as I have seen, she doesn't just send out personal attacks. Your comment about the bon bons was just that- a personal attack that had NO bearing whatsoever on the topic at hand. If you're going to attack someone, do so with regard to what they say.

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Tigger 7 years, 3 months ago

OK meth and mass campings, I can agree with that. WOW Lets go bust up some meth heads! Nice thing about em' is the cops can catch em' cuz they aint' that smart. lol I think GW views on NOT getting kids involved in the "system" is a good idea. We need to at least give parents a chance to dicipline thier kids before society tries to do the job. Let's face it government is not the solution not even your beloved SSPD. BTW, is this just a bunch of bias opinions here from coppers?

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id04sp 7 years, 3 months ago

It occurred to me during all this debate that the biggest job the local cops have to do is deal with the general population in Routt County (not 100% of the people, but people in general) which tolerates and particupates in recreational drug use and alcohol abuse.

Sure, a lot of people get popped for DUI/DWAI at checkpoints, but overall, is there a rash of drug and alcohol related traffic fatalities in Routt County? No . . . . so if people are not getting hurt that way, maybe the public safety money should be spent on economic crimes which are going uninvestigated, and let the CSP presence out of town and the SSPD presence in town deter drinking and driving. I've seen it a hundred times in casual coversations. The subject gets around to local problems and the availability of recreatonal drugs comes up. There's a tiny catch of the breath, a very slight pulling back, a narrowing of the pupils, and you know you're talking to somebody who is a casual user. The architect who would never harm a fly and has the good sense to stay home and smoke a little dope just cannot believe that THEY are part of the problem.

Oh, it's no different than alcohol. Oh, everybody does it. Oh, what can one person do? I don't buy it on the street; I get it from a guy at work.

The fact is that each and every user of black market drugs is feeding the problem and funding the enterprise of criminals who are supplying the segment of our society that does NOT have the sense to stay home and use recreational drugs safely and quietly.

Cop necks are "on the line" in this county because otherwise responsible citizens just do not understand how their little occasional use of an ounce of pot can hurt anybody else. They avoid contact with police and figure that the bigger problem belongs to everybody else, and say, "Oh, well," and continue to use when it suits them. They look after their comfort and are not concerned with much else unless it requires no effort on their part.

There's an unspoken thread in this debate which says that Democrat Gary Wall will leave people alone who are not hurting anybody else. There have been comments that he is against alcohol check points and that he has worked to get "drunks" out of a jam. The other side of the debate seems to be that Wall has opposed Nazi-like tactics by local law-enforcement agencies and has helped people fight DUIs by finding fault with police procedure, etc.

(continued)

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id04sp 7 years, 3 months ago

It is a stone-cold fact in our county that laws are applied and enforced unevenly at all levels of the justice system. Does anybody believe that the cops sit outside a restaurant where one of the local judges is dining and wait to pull them over two blocks down the road to issue a ticket for DUI? I know of a case -- a former employee of mine -- who had exactly that scenario played out for them because of cops who held a grudge. Were the cops right to arrest the guy for DUI? Sure they were. He deserved it. On the other hand, is that a fair and reasonable use of public resources when the cop wages could have been spent investigating some other crime that had already happened, but just wasn't as much fun to worry about?

Wall's investigative staff is pretty small based on what was printed in the Pilot. What was it; 2 investigators and 13 patrol deputies? Maybe there should be fewer strictly patrol deputies and a couple more people who can handle bigger issues while still being available for routine calls.

SSPD is a visible deterrence to DWI in the city limits. CSP is the same out on the major roads. Are a lot of alcohol-related accidents happening out in the County? No . . . . so maybe some of the RCSO budget could be spent on economic crimes which are victimizing hundreds of people in our county. These crimes range from use of illegal immigrant labor, to drug trafficking, to criminal extortion, to criminal menacing, and all of them have a huge impact on the ability of the average person to get by from week to week on what they make.

There are some very creatives schemes being used to get rich in Routt County. A lot of them depend on the fact that working people don't have money to spend on expensive lawsuits, and the law enforcement agencies don't want to be bothered (at least up to now).

Maybe things will be different under Wall. I guess we'll see.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 3 months ago

The comment "Are a lot of alcohol-related accidents happening out in the County? No..." makes me wonder, is there a possibility it's because of the presence of the RCSO? How many innocent lives have to be lost to drunk drivers before it's sensible to have the SO patrol the roads? Patroling is supposed to be a deterrent and I for one thinks it works, it scares me to think of how many drunks would be on the road if they knew their chances of being caught were very slim. The State Patrol takes care of state highways, SSPD takes care of SS, as does HPD take care of Hayden, every now and then the agencies even help each other but... the County is supposed to take care of the County....Let them!

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id04sp 7 years, 1 month ago

So, Chris, what's on the blotter? Are there lots of alcohol related incidents in the county, or is the visible presence of RCSO patrols keeping people in line? Which is it?

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BenHurt 6 years, 10 months ago

The Steamboat Sheriff's office, city police, DA's office, the judiciary, and longtime bussiness people have long had crooked elements and still do. A few of them have just been fired and defeated in the election. Many a good citizen have ben run out, killed, or made to disappear. beware Steamboat. Other law enforcement agencies, politicians, and the like know about it through out the state and just don't care or have their palms greased too. You or someone you know could be next

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