Vallario to let 3 deputies go |

Vallario to let 3 deputies go

Lynn Burton

Sheriff-elect Lou Vallario has notified three deputies they won’t be retained when he takes office Jan. 14, but said such terminations aren’t uncommon when a new sheriff takes over.

“Of the 36 new sheriffs elected in Colorado this year, I’m betting 30 to 32 will have different undersheriffs,” said Vallario, who defeated incumbent sheriff Tom Dalessandri in November’s general election.

Vallario said the terminated employees are jail administrator Dan Hall and jail Lt. Les Beckman, and public information officer/special projects deputy Ron VanMeter.

Garfield County opened its new, four-story jail earlier this year. Vallario said Hall and Beckman will not be retained in part because he wants someone who will be on the same page with him philosophically.

“I want someone with an objective eye, someone who is more in tune with progressive programs,” Vallario said. “We might look at rehabilitation and GED programs, and look at contracting out some services.”

Vallario said one problem with the new jail is delays in allowing municipalities and the Colorado State Patrol to once again book prisoners, after years of them being not accepted due to crowding in the old jail.

“They were finally allowed to book them in October or November,” said Vallario, who is Glenwood’s police lieutenant. “It was a long, drawn-out issue.”

Vallario said another consideration in the terminations is that as an elected official, he is personally liable for actions his deputies take. “Everything that can go wrong, I’m liable for. Every deputy works at my pleasure,” Vallario said.

The pending terminations are also similar to when a new Colorado governor is elected, and he names his own cabinet. “Those people are the governor’s advisors,” Vallario said.

VanMeter won’t remain with the sheriff’s department because the public information officer position is being eliminated. “I prefer to talk to the press myself,” Vallario said.

Sheriff’s offices closed early on Tuesday, and Hall, Beckman and VanMeter were not available for comment.

As for other changes at the sheriff’s department, current UnderSheriff Jim Sears will take the new position of emergency management coordinator, Vallario said.

Vallario said Sears will focus on many non-law-enforcement areas the sheriff’s department is responsible for, including search and rescue operations, hazardous materials spills, and other emergencies such as wildfires and other natural disasters.

“I talked with other agencies, and they said Jim would be good for the position. He’ll be able to build it from the ground up,” Vallario said.

Earlier in the month, Vallario named Glenwood Springs Police Sgt. Tim Templon as his undersheriff.

Vallario’s last day with the Glenwood Springs Police Department is Jan. 10. He takes his oath of office as sheriff on Jan. 14.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext 534

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