Thursday, June 19, 2014

Elder lunches with reporters

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

click to enlarge Bill Elder breaks bread with the media. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Bill Elder breaks bread with the media.
Apparent sheriff-elect Bill Elder sat down with a room full of journalists today to build media relations and outline some of his initiatives. The meeting, at the Pikes Peak United Way office, was hosted by the Colorado Springs Press Association.

Elder is the only candidate on the November ballot for sheriff, so it's a virtual certainty he will take office in January to succeed Sheriff Terry Maketa.

Highlights:

— "We're going to push press relations to a new level," he said, adding he'll reassign officers now working public information to the street or other assignments. He also vowed to engage local media people in training duty sergeants and lieutenants in how to disseminate information from incidents.

— He wants to regionalize many functions, including dispatch, and to some degree SWAT operations, saying he could save "millions of dollars" for area law enforcement agencies, including the Sheriff's Office.

— He said he "probably" will eliminate the attorney position in the Sheriff's Office. "I don't see the need," he said.

— Elder has a 10- to 12-member command staff ready to take over when he comes into office, including bureau chiefs, commanders and others, composed of current and former sheriff's employees. The group already has met to discuss strategy and leadership principles.

— When he arrives, he'll set into motion three initiatives. First, continue operations. Second, a "thorough assessment" of the agency to determine areas of improvement. Third, "How do we deal with all the fallout from the last month?" a reference to an investigation into allegations that Sheriff Maketa was involved with three women who work for him. "It's so distracting. It's killing the morale," he said.

— Asked if he thinks Maketa should resign, as county commissioners have requested, Elder said, "I think we need to let the process unfold. It's his decision. He's the elected official."

— Asked if he plans to roll back at least part of the special .23 of a percent sales tax to fund the office, he said, "If we don't need the money, we're not going to make up reasons to spend it." The first full year of the tax, 2013, resulted in collecting more than predicted, as we reported here.

Elder promised future meetings with the media.

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