For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: Sheriff Gary Wall's arrest may have been set up by officers

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— A year after his arrest, Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall was sentenced this week to probation for driving while his ability was impaired by alcohol and for prohibited use of a weapon.

Case closed?

Maybe not.

After the sheriff's conviction in July, I used this column to call on Wall to resign. At the same time, I questioned the role of some in law enforcement concerning the sheriff's arrest when I offered the following:

"The circumstances surrounding the traffic stop of the sheriff emit an extremely foul odor. It's no secret Sheriff Wall is viewed by more than a few in police circles with the ultimate disdain reserved only for cops they think walk on the wrong side of the thin blue line. Suffice it to say, questions linger about whether the Colorado State Patrol's actions were beyond reproach."

In speaking about some who openly showed anger at Wall's election, I added, "This bunch has been itching to get the sheriff since election night, when talk of a 'bounty' on Sheriff Wall's head became public."

Now, documents of post-conviction interviews conducted by Wall's defense team raise questions about the circumstances surrounding the sheriff's arrest. Specifically, an interview of Kim McCullar conducted by private investigator Timothy Rison deserves further investigation. McCullar is a witness who states she was at the Comfort Inn when the sheriff was pulled over at the nearby intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road by the Colorado State Patrol.

The following three paragraphs are from Rison's report:

"Ms. McCullar said she was standing at the counter to check into the Comfort Inn when a man walked into the lobby and, after looking in the phone book, dialed a number on the courtesy phone sitting on the counter within feet of her. Ms. McCullar stated that she noticed the man because he was dressed very nicely and was 'good-looking.' Ms. McCullar said when the man started talking to the person who answered the phone, the man stated, 'Hey, Doug, we got him. He is being loaded into a State Patrol car as we speak. It worked.' Ms. McCullar said the man then laughed several times, ended the call, and walked from the building. When asked if she saw the man get into a vehicle, Ms. McCullar said no. Ms. McCullar went on to say she saw no other people with the man.

"When asked to describe the man who made the phone call, Ms. McCullar described the man as in his 40s, good-looking, taller, medium build, long dark hair in a pony tail, no facial hair, no glasses. Ms. McCullar went on to state the man was wearing black cowboy boots, a longer black leather, Western-style jacket and black pants.

"Upon asking Ms. McCullar why she is coming forward now, Ms. McCullar stated that she does not read local papers and thought nothing else about the encounter with the man until she was telling her boss, Doug Matthews, about the encounter."

Wall thinks the individual described by Ms. McCullar is Jim Hinton. Hinton is the husband of former Sheriff's Office Dep. Elise Andres, whom the sheriff describes as "a disgruntled former employee."

Wall saw Hinton at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association event he was driving home from the night of his arrest, and he also spotted him at the traffic stop that took place near the Comfort Inn. Colorado State Patrol troopers testified that Hinton was present at the traffic stop and took pictures of the event with his cell phone.

However, according to another report by private investigator Rison, Hinton denies he was at the Comfort Inn. And, it should be noted that Doug Matthews, for whom Ms. McCullar works and first revealed her story to, contributed money to the sheriff's 2006 campaign.

Given McCullar's statement, Wall believes he now has evidence he was set up. He believes Hinton's presence at the traffic stop was not a coincidence. And, most seriously, he believes the Colorado State Patrol may have worked in concert with others to stop his vehicle after he left the Chamber event.

Given the sheriff's allegations and McCullar's statement, the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop should be subject to further investigation. As is his right, Wall is considering filing a motion for a new trial. If that motion is granted, the sheriff will have subpoena power to seek phone and other records that might assist his investigation.

But in addition to the investigative avenues open to the sheriff, the Colorado State Patrol should open an investigation surrounding the circumstances of the arrest and determine, once and for all, whether there was a coordinated effort on the part of some in law enforcement to exert blue justice.

- To reach Rob Douglas, email Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net

Comments

nmypinon 5 years, 11 months ago

So in other words somebody is going to spend a lot of money & waste a lot of time finding out if Wall was "framed". Just out of curiosity what will happen if he was "framed".

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JLM 5 years, 11 months ago

A really good DA would subpoena those phone records form the Comfort Inn courtesy phone for the date and time indicated and know who was called and at what time by sundown on Tuesday. Anybody seen a good DA lately?

Let the truth rumble free.

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justice4all 5 years, 11 months ago

Sure are hurting for a good DA in the 14th district. A great example of a set-up was by none other than our DA,s own investigator, Joseph DeAngelo.. For the full and disgusting story do a Yahoo or Google search for "Joseph DeAngelo-- Fort Wayne, Indiana police officer, and see to what extent he went to "SET UP" a fellow officer. He even threatened to MAKE IT TOUGH on the one he used to effect this set-up if she did not cooperate. When she asked for an attorney, HE SAID."WE ARE THE ATTORNEYS". The story goes on with a lot of disgusting details. Really worth your time to read this. Proves what many have said, we really do need change in that office. Even at home, we take out the trash!!

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Duke_bets 5 years, 11 months ago

canu - Citizens getting framed and officers lying under oath to cover up a frame job should be concerning to everyone.

Not saying that happened, but it sounds as if some smelly details may surface.

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canudigit 5 years, 11 months ago

This whole situation with Wall seems ridiculous to me. If he would have just taken the alcohol test last year when it happened, we would have all forgotten about this by now!!

Although, I think a lot of people think the police are out there just waiting to catch anyone who might be drinking.
There are a lot of us out there that have been stopped for petty reasons and we know that what the police were doing was looking for someone who was drunk and just giving a lame excuse to make a stop.

So, Gary got stopped on a lame excuse and got busted. I am not totally convinced that he got treated any differently than anyone else and, isn't that what we really want? Everyone to be treated equally.

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Ed Miklus 5 years, 11 months ago

No matter what you think of Sheriff Wall, this whole thing smelled right from the beginning, and not of alcohol. Rob you are absolutely correct to say this matter needs a through investigation. However, that investigation should be done independent of the CHP such as by the state AG's office. Abuse of police power is a threat to a free society and to each indivdual citizen and if true should be dealt with harshly.

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Benny 5 years, 11 months ago

If you ask me Gary Wall is a liar who would say anything he needed to say to get him out of trouble with this county. Pull the phone records please. Wasn't Jim Hinton taking pictures with his CELL PHONE? Why would he walk into a hotel to call someone when he could do it from his own CELL PHONE? OR is that all part of the setup somehow?

No one in Routt county seems to care anyway....he got a slap on the wrist and seems that he's still the sheriff.

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justice4all 5 years, 11 months ago

It is a FACT that the DA will burn a good officer is order to cover up the felony commited by another officer. Yes I said FACT!!! The DOJ and the AG will probably have a comment about this soon. If Wall's situation is another case of abuse of power and a conspiracy we should all be very vocal and come forward to support the ones that are VICTIMS. Conspiracy is a crime. Those involved should be convicted, punished, and made to pay for their wrongs. Do not be silent -----YOU could be their next victim!!

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Benny 5 years, 11 months ago

I hope they do pull phone records. This is rediculous. Gary will never admit to anything. If he was "set up", how exactly? Oh yeah, was he drugged? Why didn't this lady come forward during the pre-trial investigation, again? She doesn't read the papers? She didn't realize that the sheriff had been arrested for DUI? Then a year later she remembers some guy that very same night, using the courtesy phone? I don't understand how you can set someone up for a DUI. It's called a REDDI report. Report Every Drunk Driver Immediatley. I would hope every one of you would do the same thing if you saw a drunk on the road. Drunks kill people every day.

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freerider 5 years, 11 months ago

hey Rob , your really out of touch with this community. First you state that Gary should resign when you really don't know what your talking about. Then you say he "may" have been set up. Dude . here's a clue for you . maybe you can pick up on this since you used to be a private dick. As you know Gary was a P.I. before being sheriff and he was hired to investigate the Sheriff's dept. and the City police and the Highway patrol. He did a roasting report on all dept's because of a lot of abuse of power by all the local law enforcment in Routt County. I've lived here 35 years and the cops and the D.A. in this town are all complelely out of line when it comes to abuse of power. It's pathetic.Here is the real story , now listen up Rob..THE COPS IN THIS TOWN ARE SO BORED THEY HAVE TO INVENT CRIME...I've been at the courthouse before and have heard them bragging about busting people that didn't do anything wrong in the first place...geeee I wonder why Gary did that scathing report on law enforcemrnt. Gary is trying to clean it up and then he gets set up for sure..you need to keep your nose a little closer to the ground on this one...at least you have brought it to the public's attention...so that's a good start..let's see if you can follow up on this before jumping to any conclusion's .....freerider

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Ed Miklus 5 years, 11 months ago

Yep...redundant over-policing which leads to over zealous enforcement with unnecessary higher taxpayer costs. Steamboat/Routt County ain't Detroit.

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aichempty 5 years, 11 months ago

It seems apparent from your comment, Scott, that the judge simply ruled against the woman because of her character, not the merits of her case. Telling someone you are an attorney and purporting to give legal advice is practicing law without a license. "She had three days of being free . . . to see a lawyer" is all well and good, but then when you remember that Kris Hammond charged $40,000 to defend a kid who got into a fight at school, the ability of a -- let's call her "common" -- woman to engage an attorney by paying $5,000 to $10,000 up front (and you can be sure she probably knew what it costs to hire an attorney) doesn't hold much water.

I don't think it's a crime for a cop to not stop and consult a constitutional lawyer while in hot pursuit. Who do you think Foster is, the Terminator? Do you think any cop has a computer in his head that searches the databases and pulls up the solution in real time while pursuing a suspect? Uh, NO.

I still cannot believe that Cargo walks with no penalties at all after eluding police, fighting with the cops, etc., when Gary Wall gets convicted of DWAI for failing to dim his lights. Have you ever heard the term, "Kangaroo Court?" Seems like that's what we get around here all the time. I think Judge Williams acted appropriately in Wall's case, given all the circumstances and the conviction at a jury trial which Wall chose to have, but when you look at both incidents side by side, it's rediculous. It's like the scene in "Catch-22" where Yossarian gets arrested by the MPs for being AWOL (absent without leave) after his friend Aarfy has just thrown a girl out the window and killed her.

Cops have a tough job, and in the grand scheme of things (not our system of laws) the people who engage in illegal activity and cause all of society's problems are more or less "asking for it" by committing voluntary acts that bring them into contact with the police. Our courts deal with issues of rights of criminals pretty well most of the time, and it's certainly better to cooperate with police (by not fighting with them, at least) and let the system work out the constitutional issues, don't you think?

Cops who deal with scum on a daily basis are going to occasionally go over the line, because a person can only take so much without reacting to it. A smart person will treat a police officer with the same respect as a strange dog; don't invite it to attack you.

The cops do a dirty job that I wouldn't want. It's necessary. When you provoke them, you pretty much deserve what you get. That may not be "justice," but deep down inside we all know it's "fair."

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aichempty 5 years, 11 months ago

Sixteen years of life in the Yampa and Elk River valleys have allowed me to put together a list of "what to do" given certain situations. For example:

If you get busted for marijuana, hire Kris Hammond and hope you draw Judge Garrecht or Judge O'Hara (Hammond's former partner at Oliphant, Hammond and O'Hara) for the trial.

If you're accused of having sex with a minor, you can plead it down to theft of cable TV for your first offense.

You can kill anybody you want as long as it looks like a motor vehicle accident and you're sober at the time, or can get away from the accident scene long enough to sober up before they catch you. Just make sure to have six months of savings to live on in case you get sent to jail.

If you receive an e-mail written in Russian, somebody at Safeway can probably translate it for you.

If you need a small excavating job done, it's cheaper to buy a backhoe than to hire a local company to do the job, and besides, the excavators are all busy working somewhere else and won't return your calls.

Do your banking and investing online, and don't handle cash except to get it back from your debit card when you buy groceries.

Watch for sales on electric space heaters, the oil-filled kind. When electricity is cheaper than propane, plug'em in!

When you have problems with people snowmobiling in your yard, cutting trees on your property, plowing snow from their driveway across the street into your yard, kids riding dirt bikes and ATVs up and down the road in front of your house for hours at a time, don't bother calling the RCSO because they'll tell you "it's a civil matter," and tell you to hire a lawyer. Okay, except this one changed when Gary Wall took over, and now a telephone call from a deputy is enough to solve most of your problems regarding these minor infractions of state and county law.

I'd like to see Gary Wall re-open the Tugboat, run the RCSO from behind the bar so he can meet and talk to the public more easily, and spend the rest of his life in office. I don't know the man, never met him, never talked to him, and hope I never need his help, but I LIKE what he has done with the RCSO and Routt County is a safer and nicer place to live since he took office.

I hope he will ultimately take it as a compliment that other law enforcement officers and agencies apparently conspired to get him. That means they feared him. And that's pretty neat.

Now, if the SSPD or RCSO could only pull over a CSP cruiser for speeding on Lincoln Avenue (through the 25 zone, no lights, no sirens) I could die happy.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 11 months ago

I am disappointed to see the reference to Joseph DeAngelo again.

When this was previously posted I did look it up and the facts are simply not that bad. It was a bad situation of a cop with a prostitute girlfriend where DeAngelo of internal affairs arrested her and pressured her to get the cop to pay her sex. What was said to pressure her was ruled by a judge to not be legal, but that it was too close to the line for a typical cop to know that he had crossed the line.

He won the civil suit filed against him when the judge ruled that even if everything that woman said was true then Joseph DeAngelo was not liable. In particular, that even if the woman believed that "We are the attorneys" comment that she then had three days of being free (not in jail) to see a lawyer to get better legal advice.

If that case bothers you then why aren't you screaming for the DA to charge Erik Foster formerly of the OCPD? He ignored two US Supreme Court rulings when he entered Cargo's house. And then tasered her in violation of OC's official Taser policy.

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routtco 5 years, 11 months ago

Was Gary provoked to drink. I have seen Gary drink before and it did not look like anybody was pouring alcohol down his throat...Search and Rescue Benefit. If he consumed alcohol then did someone make him drive the county owned vehicle, our vehicle? Was there someone in the vehicle that made him fail to dim his headlights?? Doubt that also. Fact of the matter is that he did it. He did not own up to his mistakes. Now, to further our debt and spend our money, he seems to think that there are grounds for a new hearing. Fess up Gary, you did it and don't pass the buck. I don't want to have to pay for your poor judgement and thought of another county paid trial. I would hope that anyone knowing that someone is about to drive under the influence would first stop them and discourage them from driving. And yes, even the police do that. SSPD teaches that first. Prevention that is. If they refuse to not drive you turn them in. Why?? For one it's the law and you know it. Two, its wrong and people can be killed. Probably why it's a law. Gary is an adult and should know better even before he consumes. Why, because he is the "Top Law Man." Not professionally speaking, but more of a term that I have heard. Hey Gary and Davey:..Move on to bettering your community and your department. That is why you were elected, right?? When do we get to see that?? Instead you make our county and people look like idiots for voting you in. You make poor decisions, period. For all of those who don't know Gary, he is two faced. I have seen him say one thing in a meeting and behind closed doors he says another, like "It's not our money." So you may be asking RECALL when?? Not going to happen. Why? Because of all of the procrastinators. Some of you want to make it happen but you know that when you do, Gary will hunt you like rabbits. So Gary:.. You can't undo the past. Move on. Attempt to make your stay in office worth while. You're getting paid for it right?? Lastly::Fire your attorney. The county has one that is PAID by the county. You spent $16,000 of our money to pay for an attorney that the county already has. They budgeted $25000 next year for YOUR attorney since you don't play well with others. Wanna work on the budget, need help?? Lets talk.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 11 months ago

The judge ruled against the woman because it was too hard to believe that anyone would believe that two police officers are the lawyers that would handle the case as prosecution, defense and judge. And especially someone that has had been through the legal system before would certainly know that was not how the system worked.

It is not easy to be a police officer. One of the reasons it is not easy is that they have to follow rules and procedures such as lawfully arresting suspects and reading them their rights. Another thing all officers should know is that it requires a search warrant or exceptional circumstances to enter someone's house without permission. They should have an idea what are those special circumstances. They should also know that no-knock forcible entry into someone's house even with a warrant requires an extreme emergency. They should know that the courts have said the police need to knock and announce before entering someone's home or be willing to explain to the judge why it would have been intolerable to knock and announce "Police".

If officers do not know that then should expect to have their cases tossed for illegal search and seizure. And if departments do not train their officers in the basics of what is legal police work then the departments should expect to be sued by the people whose rights they violate.

To me what is the central problem is the Gary Wall frame-up theory is that he could have insisted upon a blood test and then insisted upon multiple samples of which he gives one to his lawyer in order to then prove he was being framed.

If the conspiracy is that Hinton tipped of CSP that Gary Wall was driving home drunk and he was pulled over for that instead of for failing to dim his lights then I don't see the need for there to be a conspiracy. There is no reason that CSP couldn't say that they had received a report of Gary Wall (or some unknown person) leaving the party while drunk and was driving back to SB. Why a conspiracy when the truth of that reality would have been just as bad for Gary?

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JustSomeJoe 5 years, 11 months ago

Tangent on our county commissioners since telefly brought them up. It hurt to see Monger and Stahoviak running unopposed on the ballot when I voted yesterday. These two do not represent Routt County 2008 and are out of touch with the community. The road striping, the budget sniping with Wall, Monger's "terrorist" comment regarding the pro-downtown justice center group are just some of the reasons why. I realize being county commissioner is a thankless job and respect them for making the sacrifice, but new blood is needed. That's all I can say, since I won't be running for a commissioner seat anytime soon.

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routtco 5 years, 11 months ago

A lot of what teleflypicker says leads me to believe that you are Gary, his wife or someone close to him. Which is fine and I believe that everyone has a voice. One little thing I see differently is that there is a lot of opposition with Gary, even from the Democratic party calling this a bi-partisan, county wide problem. As far as the commissioners go, well, I believe that they need to look at any budget that is out of line. Sure we need services and there is a right way to accomplish your goals. One is to let them be known (with the commissioners) and two is if you plan on going over budget you submit a supplemental budget and use the system, not over step the system. We could talk all day about the issue of a DUI and it is one story that seems to be alright with some and for others it seems to depend on who it is. There is a reason for blood tests and breath samples in that situation. It is not to simply convict you, its to keep you and the officer honest (In part). If Gary wants to dig himself a hole then he should keep this fiasco going. Gary needs to start focusing on the department. The leaders below Gary and Dave have initiated 24 hour coverage, SWAT training and managed the department. Gary has been there doing well, nothing. Arguing with the commissioners over a budget that he allowed to go over without knowing what he had and where to spend it. Gary pretty much approved anything that passed his desk and has been pre-occupied with his personal objectives. 24 hour coverage now?? With letting another deputy gone where is the 24 hour coverage now?? Not there is where. Gary needs to stop being the outcast and learn to play well with others. Get along and come to terms that he is an elected official and HIS office is the taxpayers office. Gary is temporary and at the rate he is going he will be very temporary with no hope of winning another election.

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routtco 5 years, 11 months ago

Where is the community benefit from Gary?? He dropped the Elder Watch program which was there to look after some of the elderly within the county, that really have no one. So, what about them Gary?? They don't matter to you?? DARE program?? Gone! It was a program that needed modification but definitely was not a program to get rid of. It also gave our young people contact with law enforcement in a good way and gave them someone to look up to when some have no one else to look up to. Gramnet?? Not in this county, they are banned by Gary. Yep, that's right: Not here no more. What does that mean?? Hmmm.. If you were in that business of drugs would you not look for a county that lacks drug enforcement?? I can almost hear the comments from this comment coming. Sorry, I am a law abiding citizen and I believe where there is drugs there is a need for enforcement, period. You want to put a cost on that?? Gary needs to set his personal problems aside, stop making the news for your personal mistakes and step up and be Sheriff. Set examples and lead the county by providing professional and responsible services

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justice4all 5 years, 11 months ago

scott wedel would you feel the same if you or your family member was a victim of deangelos style of justice? remember the murder case in craig a few weeks ago where some evidence was obtained illegally? deangelo was the one that violated the accused' rights. thanks to the judge that refused to allow this evidence. even when one is found guilty. one is assumed innocent until the jury speaks.

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aichempty 5 years, 11 months ago

routtco,

I haven't heard of any elders having problems since Gary Wall took over. That frees up an officer who can do patrol duties instead. The statistician in me observes that having an Elder Watch officer in the past took someone off patrol duty, which is obviously more important in a time of budget crunches (due to the County spending all it's money on the Justice Center a couple of years ago). Also, did having an Elder Watch officer prevent the theft of deposits by the two tellers who were skimming cash? I think that, if elders were suffering, we'd be hearing about it loud and clear, huh?

DARE had no measurable impact on drug use in the schools, did it? What changes have been observed in the schools since DARE went away? Again, it was an officer slot not on patrol, who is now free to patrol the County. Judging from the number of incidents on CR-129 in recent weeks, the RCSO could put an officer out there and maybe prevent a crash or two from being visibile and making a few stops for speeding.

GRAMNET? Shirley (sic), you jest. The biggest drug bust in years was pulled off recently by the RCSO without GRAMNET assistance. When's the last time you heard about GRAMNET arresting anybody anyway. Months ago, right? Drugs all over two counties and GRAMNET doesn't seem to be making a dent. Shouldn't we consider the possibility that pulling RCSO out of GRAMNET and restaffing the agency got rid of a "mole" who was tipping off the traffickers? No proof of such a thing, of course, but when changes in organization and personnel precede a period of greater effectiveness (the big pot bust) you've got to wonder if there's a connection.

The RCSO drug bust near Stagecoach probably did more to keep drugs out of the local schools than DARE could have ever done.

RCSO is now policing Oak Creek and spending a lot of time down there according to "The Record."

It seems to me that there are more RCSO officers actually out policing the community these days, rather than having several who didn't do much but get paid for wearing a uniform, and nothing of any real value to the community.

I can't see how anything is worse under Sheriff Wall, and from what I've seen personally, it's much better than it used to be under the previous administration.

The alleged plot to "get Wall" may be a reaction to the changes he made since taking office, and his refusal to resign after the DUI incident may be a big surprise to the people who thought the County would go back to business as usual once he was gone.

I'd like to see some familiar names from our community linked to drug trafficking arrests by the RCSO, but even if that doesn't happen, maybe there's a signal being sent that will force traffickers to cool it. That's a whole bunch better than DARE was ever going to do.

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