Regarding my federal lawsuit against El Paso County and former Sheriff Maketa, if there is no resolution prior to the start of my term, then I would certainly remove myself from any involvement in decisions about how the county should proceed. I stand by my decision to file the initial complaint along with Commander Rob King and Bureau Chief Mitch Lincoln. I believe the citizens of EI Paso County have a right to know the facts that were discovered as a result of our allegations and formal complaint.He also notes that, contrary to our earlier post, he WILL NOT be taking a pay cut if elected. Why? Because the Colorado General Assembly last session passed a bill that bumps up pay for commissioners substantially: from $87,300 to $113,490, which figures out to be whopping 30 percent pay hike. The same pay increase will be seen by county treasurers, clerks and assessors in the state's biggest counties, which include El Paso, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer, Pueblo and Weld.
Rodney Gehrett (R-Colorado Springs) has officially announced his candidacy for the El Paso County Commissioner seat that will be vacated by Commissioner Sally Clark in January of 2017, due to term limits.
“With three of the five county commissioners leaving office due to term limits in January of 2017, the 2016 election cycle is a critical time for El Paso County,” Rodney said. “More than ever, El Paso County needs experienced leaders to answer the call of public service and lead this community into the future. I have been a public servant for more than three decades, and I am not done yet. I have the experience, demonstrated leadership, and courage necessary to address challenges head on, ensuring the highest quality of life for all who call this great community home.”
As a County Commissioner, Rodney plans to focus his efforts to improve public safety services, repair and maintain infrastructure, and diversify and strengthen the local economy. He believes improvements in these three areas will have the most significant impact on the quality of life for all El Paso County citizens. “People prefer to live, work, and play in communities that are safe, with well maintained infrastructure and good paying jobs that allow them to provide for their families,” said Rodney. “Those same issues are equally important to local businesses owners.”
He has already picked up several key endorsements from local leaders. Among his supporters is Sheriff Bill Elder, who recently completed the first year of his four year term as Sheriff. “Rodney’s contributions to our collective success as an agency have been immeasurable during this past year,” said Elder. “I will hate to lose him as a member of my Command Staff, but his style of leadership is desperately needed in this community. He has my full support!”
Rodney is a 20 year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, where he currently serves as the Support Operations Division Commander. During his career, he has held numerous key positions such as Training Director, Standards and Technologies Manager, Public Information Officer, and Administrative Services Division Commander. His extensive experience managing people, resources, and budgets within the El Paso County government framework makes him uniquely qualified to serve as a commissioner.
In addition to his service with the Sheriff’s Office, Rodney has an extensive military background. He recently completed his 30th year of military service. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He serves as a Major with the US Army Reserve and is currently a Psychological Operations Officer, assigned to NORAD and USNORTHCOM at Peterson Air Force Base.
The Resolution, approved during the Tuesday November 24 BoCC meeting, further states, “The Board is concerned about the considerable financial burdens created by the refugees on our local schools, law enforcement, and community services, as an additional unfunded mandate imposed upon the community during uncertain economic times in which the County budget and other governmental entities and agencies are already experiencing financial stressors.”Regarding those "uncertain economic times," in the county's latest 2016 budget report, the sales tax forecast for next year predicts the county will bring in $91 million, which is 32 percent more than the pre-recession year of 2007. Property tax revenue during the same period is estimated to go up 30 percent — from $37.4 million in 2007 to a predicted $48.6 million in 2016.
Through the Resolution Commissioners indicate that they understand, “the desire for persons to seek freedom and to share in all that is good and positive in the American way of life. (But) the risk to our local citizens in times of global terrorism and economic insecurity cannot be overlooked, and it is necessary for the Board to protect the health, safety, security, and welfare of the citizens of the County by declaring its opposition to the relocation of refugees from the United States Resettlement Program into El Paso County until and unless the refugee is determined by existing immigration procedures to not be a threat by the federal government.”
The item came before the Board as an added agenda item at the request of Commissioner Darryl Glenn. Commissioner Glenn noted that the resettlement efforts would have financial implications and the County will be making budget decisions for 2016 at its next meeting on December 3. Commissioner Glenn said, “Real-world events are not only dictating that we deal with this as a budget item, but also that we work to provide some level of security for the citizens who have expressed a concern with regard to, what is it that is possible for our local governments are able to do.”
Radical Islamic Terrorists have declared war on the United States of America. President Obama, Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Bennet have grossly underestimated the magnitude of the threat that we're facing.
The blanket acceptance of the relocation of refugees to the United States without certification from the directors of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence should not be tolerated. I stand with more than half of the nation's governors opposing the acceptance of Syrian refugees without a clear certification that their placement would not jeopardize the security of the citizens they've taken an oath to protect. Unfortunately, Colorado's governor is NOT one of them.
While I certainly appreciate the plight of innocent refugees and of those fleeing from terror in their homelands, I simply cannot agree to accept the unknown into our homes at the expense of the safety and security of those we love.
So what should we do if our President, Governor and Senior Senator refuse to show leadership?
As your next Senator from Colorado, I'm asking you to join me in calling for all of our elected officials to seek the immediate suspension of all federal, state and local government funding in support of the Refugee Resettlement Program within the State of Colorado until we receive certification from the directors of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence that these refugees pose no threat to the security of our citizens.
We must take this moment in time to step up and lead when our President, Governor and Senior Senator have failed!
On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, a use of force incident occurred in the Intake and Release area of the Criminal Justice Center. Information regarding this incident was reported and then given to the District Attorney’s Office for review. A criminal investigation was initiated due to the actions taken by Deputy Francisco Vasquez, in his official capacity as a Deputy Sheriff.
On the afternoon of November 19, 2015, Deputy Vasquez was officially charged by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office with 3rd Degree Assault (M1) and Official Oppression (M2). Deputy Vasquez has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since December 12, 2012, and is assigned to the Intake and Release Section.
Deputy Vasquez is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation. Facts concerning this investigation will not be released at this time, as it is an ongoing personnel matter. According to Sheriff Elder, “The arrest of a deputy has a significant impact on our Office, its members, and our community. It will be handled in the same manner and with the same integrity as every other investigation.”
Deputy Vasquez is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Marsha Brewer, Candidate
El Paso County Commissioner District 4
Exits the Race
Colorado Springs – Today Marsha Brewer, a Candidate for County Commissioner announced that she would not seek the Republican Party nomination for El Paso County Commissioner District 4.
“To be an effective Candidate requires a great deal of time and attention. Due to a change in my personal circumstances, I will not be able to devote the time and attention I believe is necessary to be an effective Candidate and Commissioner. I wish the other Candidates and the citizens of Commissioner District 4 the very best,” stated Brewer “there are some excellent Candidates in this race and I look forward to supporting the Party’s nominee in June.”
Community Meeting on Use of New Santa Fe Regional Trail Has Been Rescheduled to October 5
Interested Trail Users Encouraged to Attend
El Paso County, CO, September 23, 2015 – The community meeting on the New Santa Fe Regional Trail which was originally scheduled for September 28, 2015 has been moved to October 5, 2015.
El Paso County Parks is hosting the meeting to discuss public use of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy. Interested residents are encouraged to attend the meeting on Monday, October 5, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at Academy International Elementary School, 8550 Charity Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
El Paso County has had an easement for the seven mile section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy since 1989. The trail section has been closed to general public use since May, 2015 due to an increased threat assessment by the US Northern Command.
El Paso County and the Air Force Academy have been in discussions regarding public access to the trail and an update on those talks will be provided. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input on the future use of the trail.
For further information, please contact County Parks at 520-7529.
Community Invited to Meeting on Use of New Santa Fe Trail Through U.S. Air Force Academy
Public May Provide Input on Future Trail Use
El Paso County, CO, September 14, 2015 – El Paso County Parks will host a community meeting to discuss the public use of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through Air Force Academy property.
The meeting will be Monday, September 28, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Offices, 4255 Sinton Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80907.
El Paso County has had an easement for the seven mile section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail through the Air Force Academy since 1989. The trail section has been closed for general public use by the Air Force Academy since May, 2015 due to security concerns.
El Paso County and USAFA have been in discussions regarding public access to the trail and an update on those talks will be provided. The public is encouraged to attend and provide input on the future use of the trail.
For further information, please contact County Parks at 520-7529.
On December 4, 2014, Mr. Zaruba met with Ms. Trivelli who informed him that she had met with the staff to review the statutes, admitting that the Treasurer’s office obviously had issues with the dates and timelines. Ms. Trivelli advised that the office would subsequently be changing their internal policy and would provide Mr. Zaruba a copy.And to think Balink collected a salary from taxpayers of $87,300 a year for four years.
Possible Amendments to EPSO Policy # 501, Use of ForceIt's hard to believe the Sheriff's Office policies are so in need of an overhaul. Elder took officer nearly eight months ago and one might hope he's addressing these issues. Three-termer Terry Maketa was essentially drummed out of office due to his philandering, which the Independent reported in 2010 while other media jumped on in May 2014, and other missteps for which he remains under criminal investigation.
As evidenced by incidents nationwide, no issue is likely to impact the public’s relationship with law enforcement more than the use of force. It is often the subject of citizen complaints, lawsuits, and intense media coverage. The authority to use force, up to and including deadly force, is an awesome one which must be scrupulously controlled so that it is not abused. At the same time, law enforcement officers must have the ability to protect themselves and the public and to carry out their duties and responsibilities. Therefore, all law enforcement agencies must have well-written use of force policies which define and explain the appropriate use of force and guide officers in their decision to use force.
The EPSO is currently studying its core use of force policy. It is contemplating the use of a model policy and modifying it to meet the specific needs of the Office. It is recommended that this process be continued and expedited. The current use of force policy, while adequate, is not clearly written and does not conform to best practices.
It is further recommended that the EPSO study use of force policies of other sheriff’s departments and the provisions contained in U.S. Department of Justice consent decrees and settlement agreements in order to determine the content and wording of its use of force policy. The following amendments should be considered:
1. A statement recognizing the sanctity of life and the significance of using deadly force;
2. Statement of policy acknowledging that only that force which is “objectively reasonable” shall be used;
3. Recognition that a deputy’s actions immediately prior to the use of force may influence the need for or level of force;
4. Use of advisements, warnings and verbal persuasion, when possible, before resorting to force;
5. Use of de-escalation techniques to attempt to lessen the likelihood of the need to use force or to reduce the level of force;
6. Use of tactical options to attempt to reduce the need for force or the level of force such as disengagement, containment, use of cover/concealment and barriers, creating time and distance, waiting for “back-up”, or calling for specialized units or deputies with special training;
7. Duty to de-escalate immediately as resistance decreases and the threat subsides;
8. Policy with regard to warning shots;
9. Policy with regard to shooting at or from moving vehicles and tactically approaching vehicles;
10. Duty to immediately notify a supervisor after witnessing or becoming aware of the use of unnecessary or excessive force by another deputy;
11. Duty to intercede, when possible, to stop the use of unnecessary or excessive force by another deputy;
12. Policy with regard to the drawing and brandishing of a firearm;
13. Factors to consider in determining the reasonableness of force options;
14. Duty to prepare thorough, complete and truthful reports, devoid of conclusory, “boilerplate” language, detailing the need and purpose for using force, the threat or resistance faced, the justification for the use of force option employed, and any attempts to use or consideration of lesser force options, where feasible;
15. Duty of supervisors to investigate and evaluate use of force by subordinates;
16. Duty to provide medical assistance to persons against whom force was used;
17. Acknowledgement of constitutional requirements for the use of force in an institutional/correctional setting (Hudson v McMillan, 503 US 1, ); and
18. Specific reference (by title and policy number) to all other policies related to the core use of force policy.
The above list is not intended to be exhaustive but merely illustrative of issues which should be considered.
This multi-faceted assessment was undertaken to identify how the individual department members assess the agency and organizational environment. There was also a need to have a non-biased review of practices and policies in place at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office following numerous complaints and ongoing litigation.
The purpose for using KRW was to provide a trusted source for the development of recommendations that will help us establish measurable outcomes for future change and planning. The goal was to conduct an in-depth assessment of the organizational climate and environment in order to offer recommendations to enhance morale, organizational proficiency and leadership. The project team conducted a comprehensive review of current operational practices, policies and procedures. Over 200 employees, both sworn and civilian, were interviewed both individually and during 12 focus groups. Additionally, a sample of external customers were queried about their impressions of the quality of services and their relationship with the Office.
El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark Installed as President of National Association of Counties
Clark Touts “Safe and Secure” Initiative for her Term as President
El Paso County, CO, July 13, 2015 – El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark (District 3) was elected President of the National Association of Counties (NACo) on Monday at the NACo annual summer convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. NACo serves America’s 3,069 counties by monitoring and assessing the impact of federal regulations and policies on county government and coordinating the legislative efforts to assure that counties can continue to serve citizens efficiently and effectively.
Clark is the first county commissioner from the State of Colorado to be elected President of NACo. Clark has been active in NACo since 2005, serving on its Board of Directors and as the subcommittee chair of the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. She has also been active in NACo’s Financial Services Center Advisory Committee, Large Urban County Caucus Steering Committee, Cybersecurity Task Force, Veterans and Military Services Committee, Membership Committee and its Arts and Culture Commission among others.
During her acceptance speech, Clark thanked her fellow El Paso County Commissioners as well as County staff for their support and work on her behalf. She also thanked Colorado Counties Inc. Executive Director Chip Taylor and, of course, her husband, Welling Clark, for his “love and support.”
Clark announced her focus as NACo President will be to ensure Safe and Secure Counties. “Today, we enter a new phase of promise. A new phase of growth and outreach efforts because we know that stronger counties make a stronger America,” said Clark during her acceptance speech.
In describing her presidential initiative Clark said, “The Safe and Secure Counties initiative will explore innovative strategies that counties implement to serve our citizens. We will convene public, private and philanthropic leaders, produce special reports and facilitate peer-to-peer learning opportunities for members. While each county is unique, we all face similar challenges and can learn from each other’s ideas.”
“NACo will continue to advocate for federal policies that advance the interests of county government ... whether fighting unfunded mandates or securing needed investments in critical county services,” said Clark.
Clark referenced her specific experiences as an El Paso County Commissioner in finding solutions to difficult problems during a period of economic downturn as well as historic local and statewide natural disasters. “Over the last few years, my county experienced two catastrophic wildfires followed by disastrous flooding, resulting in loss of life and long-term recovery costs. When disasters strike, counties are the boots on the ground, before, during and after emergencies. Regardless of where you live safety and security are at the core of county government,” said Clark.
Clark will also be using her position with NACo to give the citizens of her own County a better understanding of the critical services provided by counties including transportation, public health, environmental services, child protection, criminal justice and more. Each month during the upcoming year El Paso County will provide focused information on specific the functions, responsibilities and services provided by El Paso County Government.
Clark represents Commissioner District 3 which includes Colorado Springs' west side extending through Manitou Spring and the Ute Pass area to the Teller County line. Clark was elected to serve as an El Paso County Commissioner in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2012. She has served as chair and vice chair of the commission. Clark has won numerous awards for excellence in public and community service and has served in many state and local leadership positions, including the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Justice, the Colorado Child Welfare Allocation Committee and co‐chair of the Waldo Canyon Fire Recovery Group.
Development Code Exceptions for Black Forest Fire Properties Allowed to Expire
Temporary Exceptions May Be Allowed After Administrative Review on a Case by Case Basis
El Paso County, CO, Tuesday July 7, 2015 – The Board of El Paso County Commissioners today confirmed the immediate expiration of code exceptions which were put in place make it easier for residents to rebuild after the 2013 Black Forest Fire. The Board’s unanimous decision allows the Development Services Department to work with individual property owners with extraordinary circumstances on an individual basis to allow them to continue to live in recreational vehicles (RVs) for a limited time pending the completion of construction work on their homes.
The Board heard from a number of Black Forest residents who are in the process of rebuilding bur still living in RV’s due to financial hardships, pending insurance litigation and medical issues. The Board’s decision gives those residents with active building permits, pending insurance settlements or other extraordinary circumstances the opportunity to work with the Development Services Department on a case by case basis.
The Board also heard from residents who expressed concerns that some of the properties burned in the fire are still littered with rusting fire debris, burned out vehicles, multiple trailers and piles of demolition and construction materials creating localized blight and reducing the value of their properties. With the Board’s decision today, County Code Enforcement Officers are directed to resume regular enforcement procedures associated with the rubbish ordinance and all other applicable Land Development Code provisions in the Black Forest area.
Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who represents the Black Forest Area, noted that allowing the two-year old exceptions to expire provides clear direction in establishing a way forward for the entire community. Commissioner Dennis Hisey added, “It’s time to go after the rubbish; the rusting debris from burned out houses that still exists on some of those properties.” Commissioner Amy Lathen added, “We always make a concerted effort to work with those who are suffering but this allows our staff to get in there and begin working with property owners to clear out the rubbish.”
El Paso County resident Ed Dills was presented the 2015 Jack Blackwell Award recognizing him as the El Paso County Volunteer of the Year. The award carries the name of the late Jack Blackwell, who gave countless hours of volunteer service on the Highway Advisory Commission and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. Presentation of the Blackwell Award culminates a Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast produced by the Citizen Outreach Group, one of more than fifty boards, commissions, committees, and task forces appointed by the Board of County Commissioners.
“He is a resident of eastern El Paso County who has spent a lot of time behind the wheel on sometimes bumpy county roads,” noted Commissioner Chair Dennis Hisey in presenting the award. “This gives him a special kind of expertise for service on our Highway Advisory Commission,” Hisey continued. “You will see him hard at work handing out toys, clothing and food during our annual Feed the Children event. You will see him planting, cultivating and harvesting on his own land so he can deliver fresh vegetables to the Springs Rescue Mission and these are just a few highlights of his many contributions.”
Before retirement, Mr. Dills worked with Coca-Cola of Colorado Springs. Coke is a valued corporate supporter of the County and has donated truck loads bottled water for wildland firefighters during our devastating wildfires as well as a variety of soft drinks to be served at various county-sponsored events.
Mr. Dills currently serves on the Board of CSU Extension, the El Paso County Highway Advisory Commission, the Citizens Outreach Group, the Community Development Advisory Board, and the Citizens Budget Oversight Committee.
Volunteer opportunities with El Paso County cover a very broad range of interests and activities. From regular clean up at the dog park to in-depth analysis of complex budget projections, county volunteers can be found giving their time, talent and labor. To learn more about volunteer opportunities with El Paso County Boards and Commissions go to: http://bcc.elpasoco.com/VolunteerBoards/Pages/default.aspx