Harry Thompson: Consider a merger


As Steamboat prepares to spend our hard-earned taxes on a new police station, should we not consider merging the Steamboat Springs Police Department with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office?

The current Sheriff’s Office building was designed with expansion and or additions in mind and has adequate ground space to do so. The jail and Routt County Justice Center already are on site. Consolidating all elements of law enforcement in one location would allow for improved inter-communication and efficiency and reduce duplication of efforts and services that currently exist.

The current location of the police station would make a very convenient substation for an on-site police presence when required in the downtown area, for example, on busy weekends and during events and times requiring a more immediate police presence.

This type of merger is common in communities all across the U.S. The cost savings would be immediate and long lasting.

After creating a new, unified force, the savings achieved by doing away with redundant administration and clerical work easily could save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. We have a very qualified sheriff in Garrett Wiggins, and he could very confidently oversee the unification of the two forces into a lean, professional, well-run organization in very short order.

This also has the advantage of our law enforcement coming under an elected official rather than one who is hired, and it gives the people of Steamboat — and Routt County — their voice, as is a proud tradition in our country.

I am certain this idea will not be popular with the our City Council or city manager. I would ask that if they know of any reason why this idea can work in larger and smaller communities throughout the U.S. but not here, to please inform their constituents as to why.

I think the council owes it to the community to save our taxpayer dollars wherever possible — even it if means they must cede some of their powers (never popular with any politicians) to achieve an effective and efficient law enforcement agency while simultaneously saving our tax dollars — and be seen by the voters to be acting in the best interests of the community.

Harry Thompson

Steamboat Springs


mark bond 3 years, 7 months ago

Excellent suggestion! Routt County has no reason to maintain two separate police forces. Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, NC has a population 42 times larger than Routt County with one government and police force!


mark hartless 3 years, 7 months ago

It's not that you are asking people to share a building. You are asking people to share or even give up power. That happens about as often and easily as a flood in September...

Furthermore, many jobs would (or ought to be) exposed as unnecessary and would justifyably be put in jeopardy. A reduced autonomy for those in management in particular...

Therefore, even though it is a perfectly logical suggestion, it will not happen.


Harry Thompson 3 years, 7 months ago

It is happening everyday in this country. It can only happen in Routt County if the citizens are tired of the waste of taxpayer dollars and demand the change.

Government should not create jobs for the sake of creating jobs, but rather to fill the positions needed to run an efficient system-taking care of the requirements of the citizens.

Instead of looking for excuses, why not start looking for better, more efficient ways to run our government.


mark hartless 3 years, 7 months ago

Several terms in your comment should be clarified.

First, there is a large and growing difference between citizens and taxpayers. A non taxpaying citizen who lives at the expense of taxpayers never tires of plundering from them, and rarely stops to consider the shameful amount of waste embadded in such a transfer.

Secondly, the list of things government "should not" do would fill a library; that rarely seems to stop it from doing those things.

Thirdy, the reason government casts such a large shadow over the land is that voters can not and likely will never agree on what, exactly, is "taking care of the requirements" VS what is (or ought to be) considered outside the domain of government.

Finally, Harry, I want to clarify that while I do not believe this will happen I certainly agree with you that it should and that your suggestion has considerable merit. And the entire community should thank you for the suggestion.


rhys jones 3 years, 7 months ago

This is a capital idea!! I'd guess that most of the Sheriff's vehicles are in town anyway, while City vehicles can't respond to an emergency outside city limits (theoretically; I'd also guess there are exceptions) so there is some redundancy there...

On my last extended visit to RCSO, about a year ago (the State agreed it was a Choice of Evils, so it was only five days) I observed that our jail is a virtual ghost town, compared to '08-ish. Back then every pod was packed, people sleeping on floors, especially on weekends, with people such as myself doing their contract time. Now (a year ago) there are entire pods vacant, or at least the upper half.

I cannot explain the difference, which is astounding. But there are a LOT less people in jail lately.

Might have to run some extension cords, to the new offices, as the pods are terribly short on 110 VAC.


Erik Dargevics 3 years, 7 months ago

Sometimes the simple things, are difficult to accomplish. UNIGOV approach for services works very well. However our local government turf wars will never follow the path of reason.

County temples for Multimillion dollar over budget courthouses, competing with multimillion dollar City temples for law enforcement to chase bears show how our representatives blow dough.

Let's be clear on this, we must have multi million dollar court houses to procecute DUI'S AND DOGS AT LARGE. We need new multi million dollar police and fire stations in our parks to catch bears.

While our government officials are at it, let's give them 100% raises, with million dollar retirement packages. Go Harry Go!


Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, if you are so SB centric that you think SB is all of Routt County then it might make sense. But if you think about how much of the county is outside of SB then it the idea of a merged police dept makes no sense Going to have a merged dept and then decide how many officers patrol in SB vs the county?

Yes, there are places like Denver where the city is the entire county so the governments have merged.

A new police every 40 or so years should be no big deal. The only problem is that city government appears intent on being as inept as possible in proceeding with building a new police station.


John St Pierre 3 years, 7 months ago

A fantastic idea.... however.... egos, power centers and the public employee stranglehold on city government will block the slightest move in that direction......

I would still propose that most of the city offices would easily fit in the now vacant Wildhorse building,,,, and that the PD could build or remodel the facility where city offices now stand.......


mark bond 3 years, 7 months ago

Scott, Steamboat makes up a much larger percentage of the county’s population than either Denver or Charlotte. Surely you are not suggesting that a bunch of open land justifies a separate Sherriff’s department with all the attendant duplicated administrative and logistical expenses? I am quite shocked to see you come down on the side of more rather than less government.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

The population of Denver County and Denver City is the same because the city limits are the county lines. So no, the population of SB makes up a much smaller portion of the county's population than the city of Denver.

Any merger needs to have clear lines of authority. A combined SB and Sheriff's force would be serving the county sheriff and the city of SB. So then SB city law enforcement priorities are controlled by a countywide elected official that quite possibly wasn't supported by residents of SB? If the two departments had been combined then any number of recent events would have threatened to split them apart.

There have been issues with having a combined building dept operating upon the same building codes for the county and city of SB. That would not be true for a combined law enforcement agency. The entire city municipal code is not enforced by the sheriff's dept.

Combining the sheriff's dept and city police would be like combining milk and orange juice because they are both refrigerated containers and so putting them together in one container is claimed be more efficient.


David Moore 3 years, 7 months ago

Normally I do not stick my nose into issues in your town, but, Craig PD, MC Sheriff and CO State patrol all share a building here in Moffat. The Public Safety Center has been in operation on land just inside city limits for 15 years or so and they have no issues getting to where they are needed. Thing is, all these entities WANTED to be together so they could process issues more efficiently and easily. Other than the building lease issue with the county, which has been resolved, they seem to work efficiently and in harmony.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

But that is a building intended for multiple independent depts. No one pretends any of the departments have been merged.

I doubt the county sheriff's building has anything close to 12,000 sq ft of office space to share with the SB police dept.


Bill Whittemore 3 years, 7 months ago

I want to let you know, Harry Thompson, that you wrote such a good letter. It points out how well we could save so much tax money. Having more available money for the Steamboat government, would help us very much in many other reasons other than the Police.

I feel that the reason why you, Scott Wedel, disagree with everyone, is because you are a Steamboat Springs City Council member. You are voted in, to help all of the citizens who voted you in; You were not voted in to city council so that you could fight us back!


Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

I think, for the first time ever, I have been confused with Scott Ford whom is now running unopposed for city council.

Maybe it would have made sense for City and County to build a joint law enforcement building in 2005. But that didn't happen and the county has no reason to mess up their sheriff's office in order to also house the SB police dept.


mark bond 3 years, 7 months ago

Point of clarification, I mentioned Denver and Charlotte in above comment and intended to mention Nashville and Charlotte.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

There is plenty of room at the Sheriffs department for an addition to the north. Maybe not enough for 18,000 sf, but they really don't need that much room even as an uncombined force. Still not the best location, in my opinion, nor the fiscally prudent path.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.