Accident involving undersheriff reveals conflicting views

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— A Utah car accident involving Undersheriff David Bustos likely will spur a meeting between county officials regarding the Sheriff's Office policy on employees using county vehicles for personal use.

Bustos was driving his county-owned 2004 Dodge Ram on May 24 in Vernal, Utah, to pick up a new office desk when he clipped another driver at a four-way stop. No injuries were reported, and Bustos paid for the stop sign violation he was issued. The accident caused about $1,100 worth of damage to Bustos' vehicle.

"We were both fighting for the same space in an intersection," he said. "It was just a little fender-bender. It's that simple."

According to the accident report, Bustos thought he was at a four-way stop. After stopping his vehicle, he turned into oncoming traffic. His pickup hit a purple van that was proceeding legally through the intersection, spinning it 180 degrees.

Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall said Thursday from a County Sheriffs of Colorado conference in Cortez that he has revamped the existing policy on county vehicle use to allow his employees to use them personally "because of the nature of the job."

However, Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said the Sheriff's Office is required to follow the county's motor pool policy, which states "county vehicles are not to be used for personal business or pleasure."

"It's news to us that he thinks that way," Stahoviak said Thursday. "It's kind of a confusing thing with the Sheriff's Office because some policies are specific to the Sheriff's Office and there are some that are not. It has been our understanding, and it was with the previous sheriff, that they fell under the county's personnel policy, which includes the motor pool policy."

Wall disagrees.

"This is a battle that has been fought in Colorado for a long time," he said. "But the fight is over. Sheriff's Office employees are employees of the Sheriff's Office, not the county."

Wall said that, as an elected sheriff, he has the ability, by law, to revamp and curtail office policies to fall in line with his philosophical views.

"If there is a conflict with the county and the Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff's Office policy takes precedent," he said.

Stahoviak said Wall's position may require further explanation.

"This may prompt a conversation for us to gain a better understanding of how he thinks this will work," she said.

Wall doesn't think a meeting is necessary.

"However, I'm always happy to talk to anybody about anything," he said.

Wall contends allowing his employees to use their vehicles at all times is a greater benefit to the community because law enforcement officers are more "visible and able to respond to emergencies."

"We are on call 24/7. We are always responsible for what's going on, whether it's in this county or in the state," he said. "Our people are always out there with a law enforcement presence, which doesn't cost anything."

Wall said his employees understand they could be called to an emergency anytime, whether or not they are on duty.

Comments

Gladys 6 years, 10 months ago

Responsible for what goes on in Utah? What a load.

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boatski 6 years, 10 months ago

"Our people are always out there with a law enforcement presence, which doesn't cost anything."

So what is the policy for who pays for all that gas as the Sheriff and his officers are driving around all over the state (and Utah) 24/7?

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Malcolm_Reynolds 6 years, 10 months ago

Employees of the Sheriff's Office, not the county. The Sheriff of Steamboat Springs should get his budget funding from the city next year.

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Camo181 6 years, 10 months ago

Would love to see Bustos' expense account records on this one! Are they public records? County Commissioners, get on board an give the public some accountability for their tax dollars at work in the Sheriff of Steamboat's office! Let us see vehicle use logs...something's fishy here. How come the public is finding out about this almost a month later?

How about Wall's expense records since he was crowned? Are they public records?

What else are they using SO/County funds & vehicles for? The only reason we learned about this one is because they got caught!

I'd like to see the receipts for the "office desk" too.

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dundalk 6 years, 10 months ago

R E C A L L.

How do people who voted for Gary Wall feel about him today? Do you regret becoming victims to one of the most arrogant law enforecment persons? DO you feel in any way responsible for electing an unqualified person to serve as King of his own dillusional kingdom?

And yes, I would like to know exactly who finances a trip to Utah to pick up a desk when there are 2 options right here within the county limits?

People, wake the heck up and realize that Wall's concerns do not involve the good of Routt County and her citizens.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 10 months ago

this is a good one, how soon does his '"view" go to the fact the each of his deputys should have a new Caddilac, and two for himself? "fighting" for space in the intersection, who should be the better person/driver, he should have pulled his service revolver and just shot them before they got to the intersection, maybe he would have won the "fight". the commissioners got to get back in control of these guys some how............

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Hash- According to this write-up:

"According to the accident report, Bustos thought he was at a four-way stop. After stopping his vehicle, he turned into oncoming traffic. His pickup hit a purple van that was proceeding legally through the intersection, spinning it 180 degrees."

...Purple Van that was proceeding legally...

And spinning a van 180 degrees isn't exactly a "fender-bender" as Bustos is quoted as saying. Plus, it doesn't say how much damage to the other vehicle was sustained. Can you tell me how fast Bustos must have been going...from what should have been a dead stop...in Vernal, no less, not major city traffic...in order to spin a van (normally heavier than the average car) 180 degrees?

To the point of not working for the county...stupid. County Commissioners are county employees and are elected. Just because Wally stamps his foot and says it isn't so, it still IS so. None of his staff was elected...only Wally. Remember: Bustos wasn't even on the ticket until after Wally was elected.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 10 months ago

picture this, a big ol burgandy caddilac with white wall tires and massive gold stars on the doors, a crinkled, bunched up left front fender limping back from Utah steam hissing out of it through Maybell.............. is there anything barney fife about that image??

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dundalk 6 years, 10 months ago

Wall claims that his reasoning for allowing his employees to use county vehicles is to be more visible ...

So, when can we expect to be reimbursed from the State of Utah?

If Bustos was using the county vehicle (unmarked?) in another state, just who foots the bill for the unmarked police vehicle's high visability in that state?

Are deputies of Routt County even able to deliver the law if they are in another state? WOuld Wall's jesters be able to perform any type of police protection in Vernal, Utah?

People...start asking questions. Wall is making things up as he goes along. Let's face it...he's still not POST certified and now has the arrogance to announce that "his policy" is what we, the county must adhere to.

Nancy Stohoviak - will you and the other elected county commissioners take a giant hat pin to Wall's overly inflated head!!!!!

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CoJustice 6 years, 10 months ago

This is funny! As ridiculous as this is, JD could use some of GW's spine and boy-hormones, JD would not defend any of his employees, even if they were right.

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corduroy 6 years, 10 months ago

if they'd "kept it local" like so many businesses in town CLAIM they also do, there would be no driving to pick up anything. It would be delivered by one of our local furniture places.

Can't our own local sheriff buy local? More and more money is dripping out of this economy.

And seriously, using a county vehicle to do this is really just plain dumb. Did he write off the gas he purchased also?

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whyquestion 6 years, 10 months ago

would sure like to know if the taxes i pay are being used for plane tickets for wall and girl friend to fly to the north west coast for wall to run in a race there???????? then have him brag about the race all over SS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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whyquestion 6 years, 10 months ago

if this NUT case WALL thinks he is not a county employee ,let him finace his department without the taxes we pay to Routt County!!!!!!! it sure would help out all the other departments!!!!!!!!!!

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kingsride 6 years, 10 months ago

I think the whole picking up a desk story is a fabrication. Word on the street is that bustos was vacationing with his wife. I think this warrants an investigation as a mis-appropriation of public funds. Looks like tin badges got that raise for bustos afterall.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

CoJustice- Having the "walls" to stick up for an employee is admirable...unless you start off by changing/making up policy to suit your need du jour.

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willie 6 years, 10 months ago

The Sheriff needs to understand that although he was elected by the voters of Steamboat Springs, he is paid by Routt County. He may control the SSSO, but the commissioners control the pursestrings. Hopefully they will start to tighten them a little. I believe that the county prefers that employees use county vehicles for business related travel, but they do not allow them for personal use such as visiting friends and family in Utah. My only question is whether the undersheriff would like the reimbursement for damages deducted from one check or two??

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cheesehead 6 years, 10 months ago

In the second paragraph Alexis says it was a four way stop. In the fourth paragraph the accident report suggests it was a two way stop. Which is it Alexis?

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cheesehead 6 years, 10 months ago

Does the insurance on county owned vehicles cover out of state personal road trips? How many points is a stop sign violation? am I starting to sound like whyquestion??????

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Brent Boyer 6 years, 10 months ago

Cheesehead: The first reference to the four-way stop is incorrect. According to the accident report from Vernal, Utah, the intersection was not a four-way stop. Rather, the accident report indicates Bustos thought it was a four-way stop, and so proceeded through the intersection. It is our understanding the intersection is a two-way stop.

Brent Boyer City editor (970) 871-4233 bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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walloshame 6 years, 10 months ago

Every other law enforcement agency that has personal use of cars go by the policy that PATROL CARS IN YOUR COMMUNITY CAN BE SEEN, AND OFFICERS CAN RESPOND FASTER TO CALLS. So, tell me what good a Routt County SO car is in Vernal UT, other than violating traffic offenses and using citizens gas/maint for personal reasons. MORON!

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Camo181 6 years, 10 months ago

Guess we can all feel "warm and fuzzy" knowing our new undersheriff doesn't know the difference between a two way and a four way stop. Here's your sign!

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whyquestion 6 years, 10 months ago

i was thinking of WALLNUTTO but WALLOFSHAME is much better/ how about the comment about costing the taxpayers nothing this one cost $1,000.oo????how much more?????

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Actually, whyquestion, It's bound to cost more than $1000. Not sure how much more, but since the report basically states it's Bustos' fault, Wally World's "not-county-employee" insurance has to pay for the damage to the purple van.

I'm betting that since Bustos hit the van hard enough to spin it 180 degrees (from a dead stop at a Stop Sign, no less...or was it a Vernalian California Stop?). I'm betting the van was T-boned (or P.I.T. maneuver equivalentis P.I.T. correct?) and will need the side replaced. Depending on the age/condition of the van prior to the accident, I'm betting another $3000-$5000, unless they total it. I'd have to see what the van looked like in order to be more accurate.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

And Wall lives in the Blue State of Denial...no, that's not Egypt, folks! ba-dump bump, tssssshhhh

Oh yeah- wasn't Bustos a rent-a-cop in Utah prior to his appointment as Sheriff-in-Waiting? Is he still doing that on the side to be in Vernal?

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JQPUBLIC 6 years, 10 months ago

It seems to me that a decent driver would have been able to judge whether a vehicle was going to make a stop or not; even if it was a four way stop, you don't pull out in front of a speeding car just because it's your turn. I also think something stinks here, not only do you go out of the county for a common purchase, you go out of state! I see nothing wrong with officers taking their vehicle home but they have no business leaving the county, let alone the state. I agree with camo on the expense account records.... Scott Stanford, can you do an article on this, do a records request and print it for the public? If it wasn't hurting everyone else in the county I'd laugh my a$$ off, the voters got what they asked for! It's time for the small town citizens to quit voting parties (or name recognition) and actually look at the candidate you are voting for, your loyalty and ignorance is killing the rest of us.

You go Wall... milk us for everything you can, gotta feed that ego!!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Hash- that all depends on the speeds involved. Say, just IF it were a 4 way stop, and the van was stopped and took his turn, hitting him would most likely not spun him. I've been in that style of situation driving in my old Hyundai Accent and was T-boned by something as large as a Ford Escape. Big size difference compared to any type of van. I was only spun less than 90 degrees. That's why I wondered also if Bustos was completely stopped or doing a rolling stop. Rolling stops give you more momentum in a crash.

Without knowing speeds involved and type of traffic conditions, it's too easy to make wrong guesses.

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dundalk 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree with JQ...Scott, how about a little investigative reporting here. Just how much do we, the Citizens of Routt, fork out so that Bustos can use a county vehicle to go back and forth from his home base, the Vernal, Utah area?

What's the insurance like for that type of perk?

IS WALL CERTIFIED YET?

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 10 months ago

now look on the bright side folks, he didn't go there to buy beer........

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JQPUBLIC 6 years, 10 months ago

condoguy... I mean, he doesn't seem to be the brightest bulb on the xmas tree.

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whyquestion 6 years, 10 months ago

well what are the routt commissioners going to do ???? ask for ACCOUNTIBILTY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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