Elizabeth Oldham, 14th Judicial District Attorney, is looking to replace the office’s chief investigator, but said she will take her time with the decision.
Oldham will soon begin the process of replacing Joe DeAngelo, former chief investigator for the three-county district, who left for a position with Colorado State Attorney General’s office in Denver.
DeAngelo’s last day with the DA’s office was Friday, and he begins work in his new position on Oct. 15.
“Simply put, we only have one,” Oldham said of hiring a new investigator. “So, it is important that we try to hire the right one, and that person will have a lot of responsibility.”
Oldham said she doesn’t have a time frame in mind for when she would like to have the position filled.
“I plan to take my time to find the right person,” she said. “I don’t have a specific deadline.”
The DA’s office investigator is tasked with assisting local law enforcement and prosecutors in the office by investigating and following up on criminal cases.
The investigator is also responsible for any election investigations, Oldham said.
Oldham said she has big shoes to fill when interviewing applicants for the position, considering DeAngelo’s work ethic.
“He was very thorough and dedicated, and he solved a lot of cases that were difficult to solve,” she said. “We were very fortunate to have him.”
Oldham said she delayed advertising the position because of budget negotiations.
She said she will soon start the process of interviewing applicants and looking to fill the position.
The number of people Oldham plans to interview for the position depends on the size of the applicant pool, she said.
“If we get a pool of great applicants, I will try to narrow it down to the best,” she said. “But, I’m not sure what kind of applicants I am going to get.”
The new investigator, Oldham said, will be tasked with investigating cases in the three counties the judicial district covers — Moffat, Routt and Grand counties.
“I’ll definitely need someone with experience, since they will be flying solo and will be by themselves in the DA’s office,” she said. “It also has to be with someone who is flexible enough to travel within the three counties.”
Oldham said at one point in the office, there were two investigators working on cases. However, when the second investigator left the district for work with a different law enforcement agency, Oldham decided not to fill the vacancy, leaving DeAngelo the lone investigator.
Oldham said she used that money to create a clerical position in the Grand County office.
“Given the budget situation, I have to allocate the money to where I think it is the best use of resources,” she said. “In Grand County, we had not filled an administrative position for many years, even though the (number of) attorneys had increased. So, it had created a big burden on the staff in that office.”
Until the new investigator is hired, Oldham said she would lean on local law enforcement agencies to help with the department’s investigations.
“The local agencies have been very helpful because we did lose one (other) investigator, and they have been great with working with us,” she said. “I think most agencies realize there is a budget issue, and people have pulled together to try to make do.”
When asked if not having an investigator would place too much burden on local law enforcement, Oldham said she would address the issue with that agency and “we’ll work together on it.”
Oldham said the office has been fortunate in the past to find good investigators.
However, there are hang-ups in trying to recruit candidates in a rural district attorney’s office, she said.
“I would think that the investigator’s position would make less in a rural area than on the Front Range,” she said. “That is a constant obstacle we face in trying to hire new people.”