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Poor economy could spell trouble for sheriff’s department

Dear Editor,

Let me say at the very start that I’m not a political person now, nor do I intend to become one, and this letter is neither an endorsement for the incumbent or criticism towards the challenger in the race for Garfield County Sheriff.

In fact, I don’t believe that law enforcement, at any level, should be political. Every law enforcement officer is charged with enforcing the laws of the land and to “serve and protect” its citizens. I have never seen anything that says it should be run by the agenda of any political party. It just so happens that the office of the sheriff is an elected position, and as everyone knows, when politics become involved, one or both of the candidates is going to say something that the other doesn’t like, just to get the voting public’s attention.



I have been associated with the Sheriff’s Department for eight years, first as a dispatcher (when dispatch was under the Sheriff’s Department), as a detentions deputy, and during the last five years, as operations manager. As both candidates know, and most people in either camp know, eight years ago, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department was the laughing stock of all county sheriff’s departments in the state.

We had almost no equipment, the vehicles were all very high mileage, been wrecked prior to Garfield purchasing them, paint coming off in sheets. The jail facility was old and outdated, and morale – what was that?



Boy, how things have changed. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department is now one of the best and highly respected departments in the state. We have newer and better equipment, the morale is much better, response times are 100 percent faster and improving everyday, but there is room for improvement.

As everyone knows, Garfield County has grown in the last eight years. We have many new developments, houses on top of mountains, in places within the 3,700 square miles of this county that you wouldn’t think anyone would live. These are our citizens, and they deserve the best service that we can provide.

In order to provide service in an ever-growing area, it takes people and equipment. This equates to dollars. Where do these dollars come from? Every government entity relies on funding. Budgets are prepared, reviewed, and approved, based on anticipated revenues. If tax dollars or other types of income are low, funding is low. If things are great, funding is great.

We all know that the last year hasn’t been good, and the outlook for 2003 isn’t much better. Every candidate can say, “I will increase this or that, I will provide this or that.” This takes increased funding. Who provides this funding? Your Board of County Commissioners. I don’t care what department, or who the department head is, if the funding is not available, it’s just not going to happen.

I have spent many hours, weeks and months working with Sheriff Dalessandri and his staff on budgets, programs and ideas that would result in improved service to the citizens of this county. I have heard Tom plead his case for funding. He has won more than he has lost. It hasn’t been easy, and, regardless who the sheriff is, due to current economic times, it’s going to get much harder to receive the required funding to provide increased services to this county.

I for one hope that political affiliation within our county directors doesn’t dictate the type and amount of funding that is required to provide our citizens with the service and feeling of security that they deserve. Your current Sheriff, Tom Dalessandri, has and should continue to work on your behalf, providing all of our citizens with the best, most professional, law enforcement agency in the state of Colorado. Tom Dalessandri has served you well. If unsuccessful in his re-election, I’m sure his successor will, in time, do as great a job.

Frank L. Youland

Rulison


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