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Some weeks, we put together the Independent not knowing what will stand out among our usual mix of stories, columns and information.

But other weeks, a single item sets itself apart. This issue, we have that feeling about our cover story ("Star treatment") by Pam Zubeck, exploring unusual judgments related to staff members under El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. We know the story will trigger reactions across the spectrum, but we're not in the business to please everybody.

We might be accused of trying to undermine the sheriff as he runs for a third term. That couldn't be more wrong. We spent weeks fleshing out specifics; Zubeck looked far wider and deeper than the story indicates. If we couldn't nail it down, we didn't publish it.

In the end, Zubeck crafted a story built around exhaustive research and fact-checking. She could smell smoke coming from parts of the Sheriff's Office operation, and Pam used her tools and instincts to pursue it. Nobody was pushing for any outcome. She simply followed the story wherever it took her.

How much fire is underneath that smoke? We'll leave that for you, and perhaps future stories, to decide. Everything we do revolves around our obligation to our readers, and this is a story we're convinced you deserve to know.

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