Former Steamboat police officer Kristin Bantle considers running for sheriff | SteamboatToday.com

Former Steamboat police officer Kristin Bantle considers running for sheriff

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A former Steamboat Springs Police Department officer, who feels she was wronged by the judicial system and Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins, has taken the initial step to run against Wiggins in the November election.

Kristin Bantle

Kristin Bantle on Jan. 20 filed an affidavit stating she is a Democratic candidate for sheriff, but she said Tuesday she is still deciding whether to run.

Bantle said she filed the affidavit after learning Wiggins, a Republican, had filed to run for a third term.

Bantle feels she was unfairly targeted by Wiggins and the judicial system, and she does not want it to happen to anyone else.

Bantle was charged in July 2015 with felony attempting to influence a public servant by lying to Wiggins about past drug use when she was applying for a job at the Routt County Sheriff's Office. She was subsequently fired from the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

Garrett Wiggins

Bantle took her case to trial and was ultimately acquitted by a jury.

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The felony charge against Bantle was the result of an investigation by the District Attorney's Office that initially was looking into whether Bantle had used cocaine. That information came to light after Bantle applied for a job with the Sheriff's Office in 2013.

Despite the possibility that Bantle could file a lawsuit against the sheriff for disclosing confidential information, Wiggins shared the information about Bantle’s drug use to the District Attorney's Office  summer  2015.

The District Attorney's Office then obtained a search warrant to get the confidential, pre-employment information from the Sheriff's Office.

After the trial, Bantle sued Wiggins and Routt County.

That lawsuit is ongoing, and Bantle said the outcome would help her determine whether or not she campaigned for sheriff.

In addition to the lawsuit, Bantle asked for an outside investigation into accusation of criminal conduct by Wiggins and officials with the District Attorney's Office.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office determined no crimes were committed.

"I think the facts of that investigation revealed the truth of the matter," Wiggins said Tuesday. "I hope soon that the civil liability that we are in now comes to an end. I'll just let the records speak for themself."

Bantle said she wanted to keep any future campaigns positive.

"Anybody that meets the requirements has as much right to run just like I do, and that's what makes our system great," Wiggins said.

Bantle has 17 years in law enforcement and worked as a social worker for five years.

She currently volunteers for several organizations, including Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide.

Bantle said it is important for her to be active in the community and to be present.

"I know that law enforcement has an incredibly tough job, and part of that job is to protect officers with mental health and emotional support," Bantle said.

Both Bantle and Wiggins have two children in the Steamboat school system.

Wiggins, who is seeking his third term as sheriff, said it has been an honor to serve.

"I'd really like to continue my career in law enforcement and retire in law enforcement," Wiggins said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.