Sheriff: Oak Creek needs $300,000 for law enforcement

Commissioners, town leaders still debating police needs needs

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— A contract proposed by Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall states that complete law enforcement coverage for Oak Creek would cost more than $300,000 per year, far exceeding the $120,000 the town has to spend.

Since the dissolution of the town's police force at the end of 2008, the Routt County Sheriff's Office has provided basic coverage, mostly in emergency situations, but deputies have not responded to small thefts and code enforcement issues.

"We don't have any (coverage) except with the exception of if it is an absolute emergency or if it is a domestic disturbance, which by law the sheriff has to take care of," said Oak Creek Trustee Dave Ege, one of the town's two police commissioners. "We pay county taxes, but we don't get as much law enforcement in Oak Creek as somebody would on the furthest reaches of Twentymile Road."

Wall said that because the town is an incorporated municipality, deputies are not required to respond to all calls if the town does not pay for it.

As a part of ongoing discussions between the town, the sheriff's office and the Routt County Board of Commissioners, Wall's office developed an estimate of the cost of compete coverage if the town and county were to enter a contract.

In a report compiled by Sgt. Miles De Young, the cost of complete coverage of Oak Creek by deputies would be $306,428.11 per year.

They reached that figure by adding the estimated $54,958.75 spent by the office in 2008, plus the $251,469.36 it would have cost for deputies to respond to all calls received by the Oak Creek Police Department in the same year.

"That's a starting point," Wall said about the figure. "It depends on the level of service that they want."

The commissioners would be in charge of coming to an agreement with the town, Wall said, and his office would honor any agreement made.

"Once we get a level of service that they want, I think the financial issues are between the town of Oak Creek and the county commissioners," he said.

Oak Creek Mayor J. Elliott said the town doesn't have the $300,000 that would be required for full service.

"We probably have $120,000 in our budget, so we're going to have to sit down and discuss," Elliott said. "What we'd like to do is trim back, where we'd have a code enforcement and dog-catcher type situation that we pay for, and then pay them for additional coverage. Obviously $300,000, that's considerably over our budget. That is our budget, basically."

Trustee Chuck Wisecup, the second police commissioner, also submitted a grant request to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services for about $769,000, he said.

If the grant is approved, the town could pay for three police officers for three years. If not - the decision should be announced by Sept. 1 - Wisecup said the town wouldn't be able to pay for full coverage but might be able to rebuild a local police department.

"Basically we budgeted money, hopefully, to hire at least one officer," he said.

Wisecup said a community focus group indicated that a separate police force would be preferred, if possible.

The Oak Creek Town Board will take up the issue at its next meeting May 14.

Comments

Scott Wedel 5 years, 7 months ago

Ege's comment is wrong. (maybe misquoted). The Sheriff has stated in a letter to the town that his legal obligation to keep the peace is met by responding to crimes in progress and investigating felonies and violent misdemeanors. Which is why the Sheriff's dept was in OC Monday investigating the theft of an expensive dirt bike.

What is so vile about that number is that the Town of Yampa pays $7,000 for similar coverage. It makes no sense and is downright evil to propose charging 44 times more to Oak Creek than they currently charge for Yampa.

And that number is risking bad consequences for the County government because I have heard serious people suggest that the Town of Oak Creek could decorporate. The utilities could become a district. The streets of Pburg, Stagecoach and so on are in better shape than OC's so county maintenance is no worse than the Town's. With all of the cheap lots available in Stagecoach, there is no demand for OC to annex land. There is really nothing going on in OC that can only happen if there is a town government. The idea of Oak Creek becoming like Pburg or Stagecoach is not scary. And the county has allowed liquor licenses in Milner and other unincoporated places in the county. So going county would probably not affect the liquor store or the bars.

The one thing that is not going to happen is the Town paying $300K to the Sheriff's dept.

Another option might be for the Town to hire an investigator that can investigate nonviolent misdemeanors. The issue there is not that some brilliant investigator is going to solve every crime, but when it is obvious who did it and it just needs a police report for the DA to take the case.

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nmypinon 5 years, 7 months ago

To the citizens of Routt County:

I am very aware of the financial shortfall in the previously projected revenues for Routt County. I have studied my approved budget for 2009, and I am willing to do my part in meeting the county's objectives to reduce expenditures. As the duly elected sheriff - a separate constitutional office - I should be the one to decide where to reduce expenditures so as to allow me to meet my statutory duties and responsibilities, which are to provide public safety and law enforcement to the citizens of Routt County, to protect the safety of my employees and to provide security and safety to the jail population.

This is a statement made from Wall himself. To " provide public safety & L.E. to the citizens of Routt County." So one would think that he (Wall) would take what O.C. has to offer, with that little bit of money it would surely help out with something. I am getting really upset that if a citizen has a problem with someone or something that is not an emergency that we are pushed to the side. Yet if Someone tries to take care of the problem him/her self, then there is an officer here writing you a ticket or some other form of punishment for trying to protect yourself. We have a dog catcher that lives in O.C. in a neighborhood where dogs bark day in & day out & yet nothing is done to these people. They could at least be given a warning while she is still on duty driving to her residence. (unless for some reason she can't hear them). If an O.C. citizen calls in a complaint we get the response "sorry we are not taking calls for O.C. There have even ben times where I (and others) needed an officer, while there has been one in town for something ( maybe just a cup of coffee) but they were here in town & still would get the same comment. Sorry we are not toking calls unless it is an emergency.

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flotilla 5 years, 7 months ago

Inmyopinion:

The "dog catcher" that you refer to is an "animal control officer". It is not her duty to make enemies of her neighbors by dropping by and issuing citations on her way to and from work without notice. If you bothered to meet her, you would know that she is happy to help ALL THE TIME when asked. And she has offered her ideas to the town. But policing people's irresponsible behavior when she has been out all day doing things like; hiking into the forest in the snow to drag out a dog that has been shot and left for dead, hauling farm animals around the county that have been abandoned without food and water because their owners skipped town, etc. may allow you to understand that she is fairly busy.

I live in her neighborhood too, and I work m-f but don't hear dogs barking "day in and day out". I think that is a bit of an exaggeration. Start a petition, call in complaints, go speak with said animal control officer in person. I agree with your comments but feel that you could be a little more respectful to her.

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max huppert 5 years, 7 months ago

i want to know if the sheriff was drinking when he came up with that number,, I guess I will have to go to the meeting and make sure the town board knows I think it is insane to pay him anything.. maybe the town will just elect me town marshall.. I could have scott as my deputy.

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nmypinon 5 years, 7 months ago

flotilla: I am aware that she is an "animal control officer", I do know her & have her business card hanging right her on my wall. I did not say she should stop by & make enemies with her neighbors by issuing them a citation. I said a WARNING. I am sure that I mentioned most of the time when someone calls in a complaint dispatch says: sorry we are not taking calls in O.C. unless it is an emergency. Sorry that you felt I was disrespecting her. I know she is busy & has a whole county to take care of. I have talked to her several times about different complaints & solutions. Maybe the town could just hire our own animal control/code enforcement officer & that would cut down on the amount of noise & dogs at large around here.

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RangerRoutt 5 years, 7 months ago

Gary Wall is awesome....it's Oak Creek that can be difficult. Cost is high b/c police want to make it their while....

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